Citizens who successfully lobbied Johnson City commissioners to find a fitting tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. know that patience, perseverance and determination can make a difference.
The Johnson City Planning Commission had recommended city officials honor the slain civil rights leader by renaming King Street in downtown Johnson City. That proposal rang hollow to many in our community who felt it did not do enough to recognize the remarkable legacy of Dr. King.
Fortunately, city commissioners agreed and instead voted to ask the Tennessee General Assembly to designate University Parkway as Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Parkway. Their vote vote came after the reading of a letter signed by several local pastors who said they “respectfully disagree” with the Planning Commission’s recommendation.
City commissioners said they heard the admonishments from the community urging them to do much better than naming a low-trafficked side street already named King to honor Dr. King.
The renaming of University Parkway for Dr. King has shown that polite and courteous dialogue can bring about meaningful change. It has also demonstrated the need for citizens to engage respectfully with their local government.
We think Dr. King would have been pleased.
We now urge the folks who spoke out so eloquently on this issue to get involved in one of the 30 volunteer boards and committees that provide valuable counsel to Johnson City leaders. Their voices need to be heard at City Hall.