JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - An amendment to the highly-debated topic of renaming a street to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. almost passed Tuesday night, but the whole ordinance was ultimately held for a third reading.
The ordinance as it stands would name future extensions of Commerce Drive after the civil rights activist, but current sections of Commerce Drive would be turned into a memorial highway. That means the official name won't change.
Several people shared their thoughts on that proposal including Sandra Combs, Michael Gray, and Judy Casteel.
The asked the city council how they believe Jonesboro would be remembered if Dr. King isn't honored.
That's when Councilman David McClain proposed to amend the current ordinance.
He would rather change all of Commerce Drive, both existing and new, to honor Dr. King.
The amendment needed 7 votes to pass, but only 6 councilmembers voted in support of McClain's change.
2 councilmembers weren't present for the vote, but the following are the 4 who voted against the amendment.
- Chris Moore, Ward 2, Position 2
- John Street, Ward 4, Position 1
- Mitch Johnson, Ward 4, Position 2
- Bobby Long, Ward 6, Position 1
The city council pointed out that Mayor Harold Perrin could vote on the measure, but instead the ordinance will be back up for discussion at the next meeting for a third reading.
Michael Gray told Region 8 News he disagrees with the decision.
"I think that's a mistake," Gray said. "An entire street needs to be named after Dr. King. To chop the street up to where you don't know what street you're on, would be like chopping Dr. Martin Luther King's name up."
Gray called the city council's decision to wait for the next meeting a delay tactic.
"These tactics aren't going to work for long," Gray said. "The younger generation is becoming more aware. They are becoming more active and activist-orientated. They know the truth about history now and [are] no longer fooled by the lies."
The city council did tell McClain that he can still propose his amendment to name all of Commerce Drive after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when the city council meets again.
The next city council meeting is scheduled for Nov. 19.