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Street Name Change Battle Picks Back Up in Arkadelphia

A debate over possibly renaming a street in one central Arkansas town is heating right back up again.
ARKADELPHIA, AR - A debate over possibly renaming a street in one central Arkansas town is heating right back up again.

Some in the discussion say racism is an issue when it comes to naming the street.

The tension dates back for years, nine to be exact, when the local NAACP first asked the city to change the street name.

The volatile point in question is whether or not to change Pine Street to Dr. Martin Luther King JR.

It's no secret in Arkadelphia, the race of those for or against the decision, seems to remain in the leading role.

To help disentangle the web of an argument the Racial and Cultural Diversity Committee, formed on the heels of this debate, met Wednesday (6/12) in hopes to discuss the history of this topic and Pine Street in general.

In attendance was the president of the NAACP, Henry Wilson, who says this is something that needs to be done.

"It's something that the African-American community and Arkadelphia needs, because the fact that there's nothing for Doctor King," remarked Wilson.

There is a bridge dedicated to Dr. King. Wilson calls the dedication of the Pine Street bridge over I-30 a copout by the city as that was not what the African-American community originally wanted.

Some business owners in town feel changing the street can cost thousands to their individual businesses to change their records and information.

At the meeting Wednesday, after more than an hour of discussion the committee voted four in favor with two abstentions to recommend city council change the street name.

The committee also approved to create a resolution as to why they want the street name changed. Work on that begins now and will be handed to city council once finished.

Some folks worry, either way, this decision will create a divide in the community.
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