BREVARD COUNTY — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream that one day a community would no longer be divided by the color of their skin. It was also Melbourne residents’ dream to honor this civil rights leader, and it only took 32 years to see it fulfilled.
On Sept. 19, dozens of community members, Melbourne city council members, Melbourne police officers and faith leaders gathered to celebrate a momentous occasion. The street once known as Airport Boulevard was officially renamed to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.
“This process has been going on for many, many years; not necessarily for Airport Boulevard but to rename any street after Dr. King,” said Melbourne City Council Member Yvonne Minus (Dist. 3).
“We think it’s important because of who Dr. King is,” Councilwoman Minus said. “He was for everyone to have equal rights. This is the least we can do to name a street after him, after everything he’s done, including giving up his life. This is the first street in Brevard County to be named after him, and we’re very excited about that.”
Residents and city council members have been working together for 32 years to rename a street in honor of Dr. King, and with that day finally arrived, there was joy emanating from every person present.
Long-term Melbourne residents Leonard and Pat Ross, who have been involved in various organizations such as Push Back Community Alliance and the Dr. Martin Luther King Coalition, were excited to see the day come where Dr. King could be honored.
Mr. Ross said, “I’m here to support the dedication of this newly renamed street in honor of Dr. King, and I just think it’s a grandiose time to be here.”
“This is just wonderful,” Mrs. Ross added. “We’ve been here since 1985, and we’ve been looking forward to this day after so long.”
Indeed, it wasn’t until July 9, 2019 that Ordinance No. 2019-32 was voted in favor and officially adopted.
During the street renaming ceremony, five city council members took a moment to share what this occasion meant to them.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I am a man of faith, and so I don’t believe in chance or coincidence, and I believe in divine order for when things are to occur,” Councilman Tim Thomas (Dist. 1) said.
“This has always been about having a major arterial road renamed after Dr. King that’s close to the downtown area, that’s surrounded by diversity and economic development,” Councilman Thomas continued.
He further explained how he met with community leaders such as Carl Finerson, Leonard Ross, Joe McNeil, Rev. Laws, Bishop Gordon, Bishop Clark and more in regard to respectfully find an appropriate street that would honor the memory of Dr. King.
Additional remarks were made by Bishop Jacquelyn Gordon of New Shiloh Christian Center, Rev. Lorenzo Laws of Greater Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Carl Finerson, Joe McNeil and Bishop Merton Clark of Truth Revealed International Ministries.
Local churches and civic groups led the gathering in song, and excerpts from Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech were read by Mr. Ross. Bishop Clark closed the ceremony with final remarks on the historic occasion.