Culture

Pensacola’s struggle to name MLK Drive

In the latest issue of InWeekly, C. Scott Satterwhite has written a detailed account of Pensacola’s long journey to name a street after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Palafox was named after a Spanish general who fought Napoleon in Spain. Leroy Boyd, the organization’s president, asked the council, “Why won’t the city rename the street to be reflective of the entire community? Why is it we only utilize whites to name streets after?”

The PNJ editorial board, led by the late J. Earle Bowden, originally opposed any street renaming but, as pressure grew, suggested Main Street. Some favored this compromise.

Nonetheless, the leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Southern Christian Leadership Council, and Boyd’s coalition remained steadfast in opposition.

At the time, Main Street was the home of Pensacola’s sewage plant.

As the Main Street option dropped, City Council appointed a committee to find another alternative. The PNJ went along with the committee process to come with a new suggestion.

“Now it’s time to be realistic,” closed the editorial. “Select a street.”

The coalition of civil rights activists, mostly led by Boyd, disregarded the PNJ’s advice to “be realistic,” as they had their own plan. Boyd hand delivered to the city council a petition with nearly 1,000 signatures backing a new suggestion: Alcaniz Street.

You can read the rest of the story here.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was the chief spokesman for the Civil Rights Movement which protested the racial discrimination in federal and state law.  Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a federal holiday. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King’s birthday, January 15. You can learn more about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the KingCenter.org

MLK Day Parades
Pensacola
Date: Monday, 11:00 a.m.
Location: Downtown Pensacola
Cost: Free

Milton
Host: Milton’s MLK Committee
Date: Monday, 10:00 a.m.
Location: Parade will begin at Milton High School., travel south on Stewart Street and end at Elva Street.