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Martin Luther King Jr.

Remembering Martin Luther King Jr. In Buffalo & Beyond



The nation will pause to remember Martin Luther King Jr. with parades, marches and service projects.

King was born Jan. 15, 1929, and the federal holiday is the third Monday in January.

 
   Banks, Schools and All Federal & State offices are closed.
The NY Stock Exchange will be closed Monday.
All Post Offices will be closed except:
Buffalo Cayuga Branch, 285 Cayuga Road, Cheektowaga –   open 12:30 to 8:30 p.m.  There will be no residential or business deliveries   There will be limited mail collection from blue boxes in business areas on the holiday.
Metro Bus & Rail Metro will operate Sunday schedules on Monday, Jan 20, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The MLK Literacy Initiative collects new books for distribution to elementary, middle, high schools and after school programs through out the state, including Buffalo,

In keeping with Dr. King's  legacy, this year will mark the 14th anniversary of the community service initiative, the Dr. King Statewide Canned Food Drive.  New York State Agencies and several community-based organizations helped to collect over 431,082 pounds of food and $81,650.07 in monetary donations . Donations were collected and distributed in every region of the State; from the major urban areas of New York City, Albany, and Buffalo,


King's legacy was honored in Buffalo on Sunday evening with an annual convocation in Kleinhan's Music Hall, featuring the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and a variety of speakers, including a keynote from Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.  

The ceremonies also featured ten "MLK honorees" including Darnell Barton, the NFTA bus driver who rose to national prominence last year for rescuing a suicidal woman from a bridge on his route.

In Atlanta, a service will be held at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King was pastor. In Memphis, Tenn., where King was assassinated, an audio recording of an interview with King will be played at the National Civil Rights Museum.


The recording sheds new light on a phone call President John F. Kennedy made to King's wife more than 50 years ago.

Historians generally agree Kennedy's phone call to Coretta Scott King expressing concern over her husband's arrest in October 1960 - and Robert Kennedy's work behind the scenes to get King released - helped JFK win the White House


Urban Streets Named For King Still Struggle

AP Photo(AP)  A walk down the 6-mile city street named for the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. yields plenty of images that would surely unsettle the civil rights leader: shuttered storefronts, open-air drug markets and a glut of pawn shops, quickie check-cashing providers and liquor stores.

The urban decay along Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in St. Louis can be found in other major American cities, from Houston and Milwaukee to the nation's capital.

"It's a national problem," said Melvin White, a 46-year-old postal worker in St. Louis (pictured above) and founder of a 3-year-old nonprofit group that is trying to restore King's legacy on asphalt. "Dr. King would be turning over in his grave."

Nearly three decades into the observance of Monday's federal holiday, the continuing decline of the most visible symbols of King's work has White and others calling for a renewed commitment to the more than 900 streets nationwide named in the Atlanta native's honor. The effort centers in St. Louis, where the small nonprofit is working to reclaim MLK roadways as a source of pride and inspiration, not disappointment over a dream derailed.

White's goals are ambitious, his resources admittedly modest. A neighborhood park is planned across the street from the group's headquarters. An urban agriculture project to encourage residents to eat healthy and grow their own food has preliminary support from nearby Washington University, one of the country's wealthiest private colleges. Above all, Beloved Streets of America wants to build community from the ashes of what was once a thriving retail corridor when White was a child.

The template can be found just a mile away. Delmar Boulevard, which saw a similar decline, is now a vibrant retail corridor packed with restaurants, nightclubs, a renovated movie theater and a boutique hotel. The renaissance earned Delmar recognition in 2007 as one of "10 Great Streets in America" by the American Planning Association.

Journalist Jonathan Tilove, who wrote a 2003 book based on visits to 650 King streets nationwide, called the King byways "black America's Main Street."

"Map them and you map a nation within a nation, a place where white America seldom goes and black America can be itself," he wrote. "It is a parallel universe with a different center of gravity and distinctive sensibilities. ... There is no other street like it."

But while streets named for King undoubtedly resonate widely in the black community, a University of Tennessee geography professor whose research explores the cultural and political significance of such streets said the compromised condition of streets named for King in St. Louis and other cities deserves broader attention.

"In some ways we racially profile these streets," said Derek Alderman, author of a 2007 study that found a smaller disparity among MLK-named streets and other "main streets" than is popularly portrayed. "We need to move beyond those images and see what concrete lives and realities are living on those streets."

More than 50 years after King led his march on Washington, communities large and small still debate whether to rename local streets in his honor. In Harrisonburg, Va., city leaders recently agreed to rename a street for King over protests by some residents. A similar debate continues in High Point, N.C., where a King street proposal first suggested two decades ago remains up in the air.

Other cities have had more success in balancing the desire to commemorate King without superseding local tradition. Alderman singled out Chapel Hill, N.C., which in 2005 renamed a major thoroughfare that abuts the University of North Carolina campus. Street signs that identify Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard also include the name "Historic Airport Road."

Chicago's Martin Luther King Drive, a major thoroughfare spanning roughly a dozen miles south of downtown, is anchored by important hubs of black life in the city. The street features grassy boulevards with stately greystones, while other segments touch rougher patches that have fallen into disrepair, including a dilapidated motel that drew community protests over crime. Gentrification is taking hold along some parts.

The major landmarks include Bronzeville, the neighborhood where numerous black activists lived or worked and tourism officials have marked with plaques. There's also Chicago State University, where Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks taught.

In Miami, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard stretches from the predominantly Cuban town of Hialeah through largely black Liberty City and into Little Haiti - a reflection of both the city's diverse demographics as well as its lingering segregation.

Along MLK Boulevard in Hialeah, where U.S. flags fly alongside Cuban ones, MLK Boulevard isn't known as the street named after a civil rights leader. Rather, it's simply referred to by its number: "La Nueve Street," or 9th Street.

The sights and sounds of MLK Boulevard change in Liberty City, where many buildings are shuttered and storefront churches can be found on almost every block. In the decades after the civil rights movement, Liberty City has seen two race riots and struggled to escape a cycle of violence and poverty.

At Miami Edison High School on the border of Liberty City and Little Haiti, 17-year-old Judith Etienne said King would be disappointed in his unfulfilled dream.

"I'm sure Martin Luther King didn't have this in his dream," she said. "There's a lot of kids dying of gang violence in this community."

For Alderman, the King street scholar, the struggle to reclaim MLK Jr. Drive in St. Louis offers a realistic portrayal of the battles King waged a half-century ago - and where such efforts need to reach into the 21st Century.

"Those street names are really powerful social indicators of how far we've come in really fulfilling the dream, and giving us an indication of where we need to do more work," he said. "As much as it may sadden us, it demarcates and defines boundaries for civil rights activism for the future. You've got something that remembers the past that actually works, in its own tragic irony, to symbolize where the struggle still is."

 


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