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Residents at odds with one another over renaming street after Dr. King

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ARKADELPHIA (KATV) - A Clark County town is divided over the naming of a street after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dozens rallied in Arkadelphia Saturday afternoon to push the town into naming a main road after the civil rights leader.

The town said it will rename the road under one condition.

"It's a part of our heritage, our legacy," said llewellyn Terry, a pastor in Arkadelphia.

Many Arkadelphia residents said the town is rich with African-American culture and history.

One particular place is West Pine Street.

"Years ago that street was lined with business, black businesses," said Henry Wilson, a member of the Clark County NAACP.

It's the reason why Terry and Wilson are making efforts to rename it after Dr. King but they say there's been some push back from city leaders who want 10th Street to bear the civil rights leader's name.

"10th [Street] has no significance no history, no historical significance for African-Americans," Terry said. "And I heard a city board member, Mr. Gosey, say that it did and I asked him the question. He still can't tell me what African-American historical significance that 10th Street has. There is none."

Dozens gathered for a rally Saturday. Supporters said there's a reason why Pine Street deserves Dr. King's name.

"That's where the heart of Arkadelphia is. The Black community," said Wilson.

Terry insists there's an ugly reason why many are in opposition.

"Yes, I do believe it's a race issue. There's no adequate reason for not having it," he said.

But Roland Gosey, Vice Mayor of Arkadelphia and also an African-American, believes that couldn't be further from the truth, saying in a statement:

"10th Street, it reminds us that there were times when Blacks were not able to attend Henderson or Ouachita because of race, but today Henderson is being led by the first Afro-American president ever to be named in the history of any historically white institution of higher education in Arkansas."

Still, Terry said there are factors at play that run deep in Arkadelphia.

"It can change if they want to change," Terry said. "But that's the key to they really want to change."

Although both sides feel strongly about their positions, as of Saturday no agreement or compromise had been reached.

Community leaders said they plan on having another rally soon.

 

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