JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - The house was packed Tuesday night inside the Jonesboro city council chambers for an anticipated meeting that would continue the conversation on how to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The ordinance on the agenda would do that by naming the eastern arterial from I-555 to Highway 49 the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial drive and name any unnamed portions of said road after King.
The Craighead County chapter of NAACP, who has fought for the renaming of a street since June this year prepared a statement for the council about their disappointment in this ordinance and it read:
"First, let me thank the council for the time and energy that has gone into the naming of a street in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I would like to make 4 points.
1. The Unity Coalition did not unify anything, and was a waste of time. We worked diligently, giving up time from our businesses and jobs, only to have the Public Works Committee not even vote on our proposed ordinance, but change it. The current ordinance could have been done without a Unity Coalition, as the proposed arterial has already been promised in a resolution that states the first street built will honor Dr. King.
2. Currently, no one knows when the arterial will be built, which, without the renaming of Commerce, makes this ordinance no more significant than the resolution to create an overpass.
3. At such time a date is determined by the Highway Department to begin in earnest on the arterial, we reserve the right to reconsider, at that time, the new arterial to be named in honor of Dr. King if no other opportunity has presented itself.
4. We request that this ordinance be tabled indefinitely. We have waited too long for this Council to do the right thing only to let this ordinance pass without expressing our dismay and disappointment with the entire process; Therefore we respectfully request that the records show the Craighead County NAACP does not support or accept this as a resolve to the naming of a street in honor of Dr. King and request that it not move forward, but that you table it indefinitely.
Thank you for your consideration on this matter."
The president of the chapter, Emma Agnew said although they are pushing for it to be tabled, this is not a fight they will give up on.
“We would have preferred for them to vote it down then we would know where we stand. We can go back and regroup and come up with something else. But, to change it and come up with something that is more palatable to the council just kind of totally ignores what we suggested and what we wanted," Agnew said.
Sandra Combs was a member of the Unity Coalition, a committee tasked with naming a Jonesboro street after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and she told the council why even have an advisory panel if their suggestion would be ignored. She ended her statement by saying she was “ashamed.”
Another member also took to the podium to say that many asked for the issue to not be kicked down the road but asking for it to be tabled, is just another way of doing that.
Agnew recommends everyone to participate in the conversation to honor King.
“Community should speak up and let the council know how you feel about this," Agnew said.
The next reading for that ordinance is November 5th.