WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — Winter Haven residents are finally getting what they’ve been fighting for; a street named after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
One of the most popular streets which runs through Winter Haven, Avenue T NE will be changed and renamed after the late Dr. King.
“I am ecstatic. I am happy. I am just...,” Joe Halman ran out of adjectives to explain just how extremely proud he was to be a part of a monumental change in Winter Haven.
“This represents a beacon of hope, it represents change,” Halman and a group of men and women from around the community have been working towards the name change for more than a year.
But this issue is far from new. Winter Haven residents have been pushing for a street to be named after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for 25 years.
“Whatever ism, schism, Ave T may have or may have had, renaming it Dr. Martin Luther King Junior is saying to our young boys and girls there’s hope,” Halman said.
“It means a lot to my kids and my family and my culture African-American, we need more,” Leteshia Parker says it’s more than just name change.
Parker says Avenue T NE is where everyone goes to hangout, that it’s the hub of her own culture.
Now Dr. King’s memory will run through the heat of her own neighborhood, and right outside her business.
“I thank God for him speaking and helping us out, it’s just a blessing,” Parker said.
The new name travels through a predominately black neighborhood, about two miles long.
And while most residents are grateful for the recognition of Dr. King and his sacrifices, not everyone is satisfied with the decision to only have the street replace Avenue T North East.
“We wanted to make sure that the quality wasn’t just in the black community,” Earl Williams said as he explained Dr. King Jr. was about equality for all races, genders and people across the board.
Williams says having the honorary road not running through all kinds of neighborhoods doesn’t represent what Dr. King Jr. stood for.
“It’s not making the statement of Dr through Martin Luther King as what I know him to be, an activist for equality for everyone,” Williams said.
“I shall forever remember him how he stood for justice, equal treatment for everybody and all he wanted was for blacks not to be judged by the color of their skin, but rather by the content of their character,” Halman said.
For the pastor and long-time resident of Polk County, Halman says this is one way he can promise to never forget what Dr. King stood for.
“This is my way of telling Dr. King thank you, for making it happen,” he said.