Derek H. Alderman

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Street Fit For A King

Site established to spread information and research on the (re)naming of streets for slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. with the hope of advancing public education and debate.

If you use any information from this site, please cite the source as: Derek Alderman, Professor of Geography, University of Tennessee, Knoxville TN  Email: dalderma@utk.edu, Twitter: @MLKStreet 


MLKStreet 2017


Naming streets is one of the most widespread and contentious ways of commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.  Debates over whether to name a street for King and which specific street to identify with him have led to the boycott of businesses, protest marches, court actions, petition drives, the vandalizing of roads, and even activists chaining themselves to street signs.  Honoring King with a street name is often controversial when the road in question challenges long-standing racial and economic boundaries within communities. 

While few scholars have studied the King street naming phenomena, the naming process is an important indicator of local political tensions as well as broader debates about race, memory, and place in America.  I have studied the politics of naming streets after King for the past several years, seeking to understand the obstacles that face street naming proponents and the various strategies that communities have pursued in finding a street fit for remembering King. In many instances (but not all), public opposition has led King’s name to be socially and geographically marginalized within cities, which has worked to stigmatize these streets and create public anxiety about renaming more prominent streets. 

As a cultural geographer, my work stresses the importance that location–the street’s site, situation, and scale within the city’s larger social landscape–plays in shaping the meaning of King’s commemoration.    Believing that my research and perspectives can be of some help to the public, I have set up this web page as a resource for engaging and assisting the movement to remember the civil rights leader.  Below are some research papers that I have written about naming streets for King.

Publications Related to MLK Place/Street Naming (Full Text Available Below)


Videos & Online Resources Related to MLK Street Naming

 

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