At a recent meeting at the Bethel AME Church, the idea of renaming Fifth Street in Marysville after Martin Luther King Jr. was discussed.
A city official suggested that instead of Fifth Street, Yuba Park at Tenth and Ramirez (also known as “Little Africa” and worse by local yokels) could be renamed to honor Dr. King. That suggestion had about as much support as a side of beef raffle at a PETA convention.
It was also suggested that if we do rename Fifth Street, it should be in remembrance of Marysville’s gold rush history with a name such as Gold Rush Way, Gold Nugget Drive, etc.
In that case, I suggest we go beyond the romanticized version of history and choose a street name to reflect the immense human and environmental toll of that time.
Around 100,000 native people lost their lives through disease, starvation and violence at the beginning of the gold rush. Forests were denuded for fuel and building. Rivers were clogged by hydraulic mining. Sexual trafficking of non-white women was rampant.
How about a name such as Deforestation Drive, Genocide Way, Price Gouging Blvd. or Environmental Destruction Parkway?
I have visited thousands of communities throughout America and overseas. Seldom have I encountered a community of similar size as racially diverse as the Marysville/Yuba City area. In other words, a microcosm of the world.
That diversity may often present challenges to overcome. But overcome them we must.
As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
Dr. King gave up his life in the pursuit of equality for ALL people. The least we can do is name a street after him.