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Honoring The Legacy Of Martin Luther King Jr., One Street At A Time

A few years ago, St. Louis non-profit organization Beloved Streets of America conducted a study about streets throughout the country which bear the name of Martin Luther King Jr.

The study found the majority of MLK streets are unsafe and crime-ridden.  Many are “located in distressed neighborhoods, considered areas where predominately poor blacks live, and viewed as places where whites and non-blacks seldom travel,” according to the organization.

Beloved Streets of America plans to embark on an effort to revitalize MLK streets throughout the country, starting in St. Louis.

"St. Louis on the Air" host Don Marsh spoke with Melvin White, the organization’s president and CEO, who said he got the idea after seeing the successful redevelopment of the Delmar Loop.

“Just a mile down the road, I just happened to drive down and look at the name on the street sign, Martin Luther King, but what was surrounding Martin Luther King were drugs, poverty, abandoned buildings, and it just didn’t match up with what his legacy is about,” White said.

Marsh also spoke with architect Derek Lauer, who is behind Beloved Streets of America’s master plan and the Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Park, to be placed at the corner of Hamilton Avenue and Martin Luther King Boulevard.

Related Events

  • A fundraising event on Monday, April 29 at CEL the Creative Exchange Lab, 2720 N. 14 St., from 5 to 7 p.m.
  • Beginning May 11, on the second Saturday of the month, the BSA plans to hold public events,which will include food and music at the site of the future Martin Luther King Legacy Park.

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Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.
Mary Edwards is a producer for St. Louis Public Radio's broadcast program, "St. Louis Symphony."
Don Marsh served as host of St. Louis Public Radio’s “St. Louis on the Air" from 2005 to 2019, bringing discussions of significant topics to listeners' ears at noon Monday through Friday. Don has been an active journalist for 58 years in print, radio and television. He has won 12 Regional Emmy Awards for writing, reporting, and producing. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, was inducted into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame in 2013, and named “Media Person of the Year” by the St. Louis Press Club in 2015. He has published three books: his most recent, “Coming of Age, Liver Spots and All: A Humorous Look at the Wonders of Getting Old,” “Flash Frames: Journey of a Journeyman Journalist” and “How to be Rude (Politely).” He holds an honorary Doctor of Arts and Letters degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.