Argue about what, if anything, to re-name 5th Street. Argue for or against Martin Luther King Jr. as the new name. But, please, don’t try to justify your argument for some other name by claiming King has no real connection to Marysville.
He is an American hero whose voice made a difference for all races, religions, cultures and affected all communities in all parts of the nation.
We first heard some mention of renaming a street after Martin Luther King Jr. about six years ago or so during the annual Unity March – actually, it was talk about renaming the 5th Street Bridge. It seemed a poetic thing: honoring the name of a man who bridged so many issues by naming a bridge after him.
The idea of renaming 5th Street was raised again during this year’s Unity March.
Some local folks decided to push the idea a bit by starting a petition and having an open discussion about it. (That happened last night, after this column was written, so we can’t report here what, if any, consensus was reached.)
The meeting was at Bethel AME Church in Marysville. We heard from a few people who intended on going – some in favor of the change, others for renaming the street after a local historical figure such as James Beckwourth. There are also those who wish the name to be left alone ... “5th Street” might not be exactly inspirational, but it’s serviceable.
“(King) was a significant American figure who we’re still learning from,” said supporter John Nicoletti.
He said, as a longtime Marysville resident, he understands the local history, dating back to Gold Rush days; and he said he’s not in any way dismissing the significance of other names associated with development of the town and region.
But he said he’s fully aware of the role King played in U.S. history and wishes to honor him year-round, rather than only on the federal holiday.
The name change would affect 5th Street beginning at Bethel AME Church and going to the base of the bridge.
Bethel is the second oldest African American church in the area, according to Marcia Chambers. The Unity March has touched that cultural icon annually. Chambers, co-pastor at Emmanuel Family Worship Center in Yuba City, said she feels African Americans have richly contributed to the culture and legacy of the community, with little recognition.
Renaming what’s arguably the busiest street in town after King would enrich the area and give it more representation on the behalf of all ethnicities.
The process would gain real traction when a petition is produced showing support from at least 60 percent of surrounding businesses and property owners, it was reported. From there, it would go to the city planning commission and then to the City Council.
Clearly, it’s not going to change unless it has popular support. Hopefully the idea of naming it after King doesn’t fail because of a dismissive attitude.
King was an important and influential figure whose movement touched all our lives – civil rights, fair treatment, compassion, dignity and bridging between diverse cultures ... he had everything to do with Marysville.
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