Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway
What do a Greek fra-ternity, a civil rights organization,the DeKalb School system and thestate legislature have in common?
The Martin Luther KingJr. Parkway in DeKalb County, thefirst street named for the humanrights icon in our east of Atlantacommunity.A formal dedication ceremonywas held Oct. 18 to commemoratethe renaming of Snapfinger Roadto MLK Jr. Parkway from the inter-section of Wesley Chapel Road allthe way to the Henry County line.It was an impressive gathering anda fun, upbeat time. Congressman
, DeKalb Com-missioners
, School Superintendent
, vice president of theDeKalb NAACP and a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha
Fraternity Inc.spearheaded the event. The newlynamed parkway runs in front of theschool named in Dr. King’s honor.MLK principal
wel-comed the guests, who ranged fromstudents and parents to school offi-cials and current and former electedofficials
pastor of Little Piney Grove Church thatsits on the newly designated park-way, brought words of inspirationafter MLK student
thrilled us with a spine-tinglingrendition of
Star Spangled Banner,
which is often a challengefor seasoned professionals whosometimes forget lyrics and missnotes. Not this young lady. Speaker after speaker praised her remark-able talent, including Dr. Atkinsonand Congressman Johnson whoaimed his remarks to the studentsgiving them a lengthy sermon onthe mount challenging them to liveup to the academic excellence andnon-violent creed of their school’snamesake and of the new parkwaydesignation.The idea to rename Snapfinger Road came initially from
, a member of the Decatur chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha and whoas young man helped desegregatelunch counters and was on hand for the 1963 March on Washington. Hetook the idea to Lance Hammondswho ran with it to John Evans atthe NAACP who passed the batonto state Senator Ronald Ramsey.Senator Ramsey sponsored Sen-ate Resolution (SR) 667 which wasco-sponsored by Senators EmanuelJones,
of DeKalb.Following the reading of anumber of “whereases” from SR 667 by Senators Ramsey and Jones,the MLK band, led by
, struck up a jazzed up rendi-tion of
We Shall Overcome.
thenunveiled the new parkway sign.Five questions were asked of thedignitaries by the freshman govern-ment students under the guidance of Dr
. Thomas Smith
, also a member of the state Martin Luther King Ad-visory Committee. The 200 or soattendees then made the trek up thehill on the MLK campus to unveilthe sign on the former Snapfinger Road to the new Martin Luther King Parkway.That’s not the end of the story.Work has begun to involve the com-munity in maintaining the parkwaywith the creation of a citizens’ ad-visory council. And, school boardmember Cunningham drew loudcheers when he announced work would begin immediately on newclassrooms at MLK to rid the schoolof the dozen or so trailers the stu-dents and faculty have had to put upwith. What a positive step in a newdirection—new classrooms and anew parkway. There were smiles allaround. A pleasant interlude in the breakneck and hectic pace we oftenkeep.SR 667:
“So be it resolved, that the entire length of Snapfinger Road in DeKalb County from its intersec-tion with Wesley Chapel Road tothe Henry County line is dedicated as the Martin Luther King Jr. Park-way.”
Sounds good. Sounds realgood. DeKalb now joins hundredsof cities with roads and highwaysnamed after one of Georgia’s most prominent native sons.
Steen Miles, The Newslady, is aretired journalist and former Geor- gia state senator. Contact Steen Miles at Steen@dekalbchamp.com.
Page 4A The Champion Free Press, Friday, Oct. 26 , 2012