AOL News Story about the Claiming A Street Named King Project entitled “MLK, USA: Many King Streets Stuck on Economic Outskirts” by Stefanos Chen

“Claiming A Street Named King”

MLK, USA: Many King Streets Stuck on Economic Outskirts

| By Stefanos Chen | Posted Jan 17th 2012 3:48PM

martin luter king jrTwenty-six years after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was first honored with a holiday, his legacy has flourished — and not just in the annals of history. Today, there are more than an estimated 900 streets in America that bear the civil rights leader’s name.

But even as the memory of King remains at the heart of American discourse, many of his namesake streets are drifting further to the social and economic periphery.

“There tends to be a marginalization of King’s name,” Derek Alderman, professor of geography at East Carolina University, told AOL Real Estate.

Alderman, who has spent the better part of a decade chronicling the number of streets named after the slain civil rights leader, has encountered the paradox many times before — beloved as the man may be, in real estate, some homebuyers and store owners ascribe a kind of stigma to the name.

Using’s database of homes on the market, an analysis of properties on Martin Luther King Jr. streets lends some credence to that view. In 2010, the median list price for homes with “Martin Luther King Jr.” in the address was $79,900. By 2011, it had fallen to $69,900, a 12.5 percent decrease.

The U.S. median list price was more than twice that last year, at $170,000, and saw only a 4.7 percent drop in the same period, according to the National Association of Realtors. (In the gallery below, see a random sampling of homes on MLK streets.)

In many ways, Alderman said, it’s a case of perception becoming reality. Residents and business owners oppose the renaming of thriving streets because of an unfounded fear that the civil rights leader’s name may hurt property value.

Instead, the commemorations of King, who was assassinated in 1968, are often quite literally pushed to the margins of town, on streets of communities that are already economically challenged.

“When a street’s name means something [to property value] it’s because of the location,” said Alice Palmisano, executive director of Brown Harris Stevens Appraisal & Consulting Co. in New York City. “Park Avenue means something because it’s in a great neighborhood,” not because the name has some intrinsic real estate value.

Compounding the problem for many of these predominantly African-American communities was the rampant predatory lending that plagued poorer neighborhoods during the sub-prime mortgage run-up.

In fact, the Justice Department is now seeking to repay more than 200,000 minority borrowers who were steered toward high-interest subprime loans when many qualified for better terms. The search is part of a historic $335 million discriminatory lending settlement levied against Bank of America’s Countrywide Financial unit.

But to write off the more than 900 streets that pay homage to King as “struggling” would be wide of the mark, said the Rev. Terence Dicks, project director of the “Claiming a Street Named King” program in Augusta, Ga.

There are several prominent examples of MLK streets with healthy economies and rich cultural legacies, such as the ones in New York City, Austin and, of course, King’s hometown of Atlanta.

But Dicks’ project aims to take an accounting of the problems faced by MLK throughways that continue to face economic hardship.

“I want to see an area meant for bad, used for good,” he said, referring to the stigma accompanying many of the streets — especially when King’s legacy is at stake. “Young people do not remember Dr. King as well as they should,” and the negativity being attributed to the streets named in his honor is not helping matters.

Alderman, who has collaborated with the grassroots project, echoes his sentiment.

“There’s just no way that Martin Luther King’s name causes poverty.”

About TerenceDicks

A three-decade community activist for the Augusta, Georgia area, Rev. Terence A. Dicks is very concerned about civil rights, the needs of inner city and moderate and low-income children, fair civil legal representation for low-income and minorities, and many other issues. Terence has fought for civil representation for the low and moderate income involving cases like domestic violence and landlord disputes. In March 2015, Terence was sworn in for a second term to represent the Richmond County Democratic Party on the Richmond County Board of Elections. Rev. Terence Dicks is "widely-acknowledged for standing up for the rights of the powerless in his community and throughout Georgia," stated a press release on the website when he was elected chair of the Augusta Human Relations Commission in July 2005. In 1986, Mr. Dicks was co-coordinator of the Mr. James Brown Appreciation Day in Augusta – the first time the town and its people earnestly expressed love and respect to the late great Godfather of Soul. About 5,000 people attended the event on the banks of the Savannah River including Mr. Robert Johnson (founder of Jet Magazine and much more), Mr. Greg Gumbel (who did story on BET), and Mr. Eldrin Bell (then asst. police chief of Atlanta). Along with Terence, the other co-coordinator was his lifelong friend and classmate Mr. Greg Peterson, an investigative journalist and outdoor environment reporter who started his career in Augusta and now lives in Ishpeming, MI in the Upper Peninsula near Lake Superior. The event broke the ice and led months later to the first concert Mr. Brown had ever performed in Augusta – ironically in the civic center that now bears his name (the renaming took another 20 years). Music Industry legends Casey Kasem and Dick Clark recorded radio PSAs to promote the free event. Mayor Charles DeVaney – a fan of Mr. Brown – prevented the celebration from being cancelled at the last minute by waiving the “mandatory” insurance requirements. Mr. Brown and Mr. DeVaney both died unexpectedly a month apart. We continue to love and honor the late great Mr. James Brown, who nearly single-handedly quelled Augusta's race riots and prevent further rioting in the 60, 70s. The "Hardest-Working Man in Show Business" Mr. James Brown made Terence Dicks the manager of his first-ever concert in Augusta, GA - about 6 months after the 1986 James Brown Appreciation Day. The concert was held on Saturday, December 27, 1986 at the civic center named in the godfather of Soul’s honor some 20 years later. Terence was the concert manager, producer and promoter. Tickets were only $15 ensuring all Augustans could afford to attend and the first 500 children under the age of 12 were admitted free in accordance with Mr. Brown’s wishes. Among those performing were Mr. Wilson Pickett, John Marshall, Buzz Clifford and Sequence 8. “Claiming A Street Named King” is an initiative Mr. Dicks started during tenure as chair of Georgia Clients Council. The project is about “taking back the street in by building businesses and homes on the crime-ridden abandoned boulevards that bear the name of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” However the project also has a wider scope. Dicks said the project would welcome claiming back streets named after other civil rights leaders and activists from all backgrounds. For example, the project would welcome groups or persons who want to revitalize streets named for late singer James Brown, the late Coretta Scott King, Muhammad Ali, Jesse Jackson, Grace Lee Boggs, Cesar Chavez and others. “All of these community leaders have messages of hope and accomplishment,” said Dicks, who hopes to hear from the centers, foundations and projects of these community leaders. “People can identify with their day to day struggles,” he said. “Above all they cared about the community they came from,” Dicks said. “They all have made a historic difference.” Reclaiming the streets and heritage of these civic leaders can reinvigorate “economic development and economic empowerment” in each community that honors their work. Rev. Dicks hopes to help others “improve the condition of boulevards named after Martin Luther King, Jr. across Georgia” and the nation. Author Jonathon Tilove “wrote the book that inspired me” entitled "Along Martin Luther King: Travels on Black America's Main Street.” Mr. Dicks hopes those interested will message him thru WordPress/Twitter/Facebook. The project is supported by East Carolina University Professor Derek H. Alderman. “Dr. Alderman is a geographer who has helped us to work on a plan for the redevelopment of the Martin Luther King Jr. boulevards,” Dicks said. “There was a lot of hope around those streets and what he did for me is he reminded me of why we name those streets for Martin Luther King, Jr.," he said. "We are heading into the second or third generation who doesn’t know about Dr. King and his achievements." “The generation that starts it doesn’t have to be the generation who built it,” he said. “We have to keep Dr. King’s work alive – keep it relevant and cogent.” Terence is a longtime member (2004-present) of the Augusta Progressive Religious Coalition. The coalition includes Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Hindus, Unitarian Universalists, pagans, and local Yoruba, who practice folk religion from West Africa. Among the many positive aspects of the coalition, Dicks developed a relationship with Omar Neal, who has been the Mayor of Tuskegee, Alabama since Nov. 3, 2008. Mr. Omar Neal was the keynote speaker of the 2011 Martin Luther King Day celebration organized by the Augusta Progressive Religious Coalition on Mon., Jan, 24, 2011 at the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Augusta. After being an independent voter for two decades, Terence joined the Richmond County Democratic Party (RCDP) in 2002. He joined the Democratic Committee of Richmond County that “has jurisdiction over Democratic Party affairs in Richmond County” and a “purpose is to help select and elect Democratic Party Candidates to office” and whose platform includes “those of the Democratic Party of Georgia.” Terence has served as chair of the RCDP Political Action Committee (PAC) and performed duties that included community outreach. Mr. Dicks is member of the Richmond County State Committee (2011-2014) representing the 12th Congressional District. He served for six years (2002-2008) as state chair of the Georgia Clients Council plus served on the council board for eight years (2000-2008). For nearly a decade, Terence has been a board member (2002-present) of Georgia Legal Services Program and served (2005-2010) on the organization’s Georgia Committee on Civil Justice and is on the state bar president advisory committee. The mission of Georgia Legal Services Program is “to provide access to justice and opportunities out of poverty for low-income Georgians.” In 2007, Mr. Dicks founded the non-profit Georgia Center for Children and Education Inc. and serves as the volunteer executive director. The goal of the organization is encouraging parent involvement in education and to support community involvement in public schools. Originally the Center for Children and Education, the project was founded 1997 by Philadelphia, PA attorney Baruch Kintisch, a former staff attorney for Georgia Legal Services After exhaustive planning, Terence helped co-write and secure a $255,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in the spring of 2008 that is being administered by Paine College for the "New Tools, New Visions 2 Augusta" Project and he serves on the project steering committee. Rev. Dicks is a longtime member of the International Leadership Association (2001-present). Mr. Dicks serves as state of Georgia Coordinator (2008-present) for the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA). He joined the national PDA in 2007. For over a decade (1998-2009), Terence served on the board of the Augusta Human Relations Commission including two-terms as chair, three terms as vice-chair. Terence served as a board member (1994-1996) and the second vice president of the Augusta Branch of the NAACP including chair of the fair housing committee. Terence graduated from Westside High School in 1980 during which time he was a member of the WJBF TV-6 Junior Achievement Company that involved filming, editing, producing and hosting 30-minute issue-oriented public service programs that aired on weekends with student-sold commercials. Terence did a summer internship in 1980 – just after graduating from high school – at the Medical College of Georgia Television Production and was taught by people who include the late TV Director Mr. Armond “Brother” Jackson , Jr. - a longtime TV production expert in Augusta including at WRDW TV-12 and WJBF TV-6. During high school and for about 7 years afterward, Terence was a radio announcer at several Augusta radio stations including disc jockey (when records were vinyl 45s), sports, features, talk show and more. The stations included WBIA and WCKJ. Terence worked in production at WAGT-TV with Mr. Frank Crotts including being a live switcher (punching proper buttons to keep shows going and inserting commercials). He also worked at several Augusta restaurants as a chef and bartender.
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