TUPELO – Motorists now have a more prominent reminder that a major north-south highway bears the name of late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
Two new signs along U.S. Highway 45 mark the more than seven-mile portion through Tupelo as “Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.”
They were erected by the city last month after a years-long effort to get more more visible signage for the strip.
“It looks better,” said the Rev. Robert Jamison, who was part of the original committee that sought and won MLK designation for the highway in 1986.
The first signs erected to designate the highway were meant to be temporary and provided little visibility to passing motorists. So Jamison, the NAACP and Ward 4 City Councilwoman Nettie Davis spent the past several years lobbying for better signs.
“I think the more visible Martin Luther King’s name is in places, it will bring about an awareness and the history of what he did for America,” Davis told the Daily Journal two years ago. “His impact really makes things better for everybody. All of us have benefited by it, and I think if his name is visible in more places it will make even the younger people more aware of what he offered to our country.”
Since taking office in July, Mayor Jack Reed Jr. has worked behind the scenes to honor the group’s request. He asked the Public Works Department to design new signs and, when they were finished, had them mounted at both highway entrances to the city.
“It is appropriate for our city to more prominently identify this important corridor of Tupelo in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – one of our nation’s heroes, and one of my heroes,” Reed said. “All of our citizens and all of the travelers passing through Tupelo will be reminded of our commitment to racial equality and true community.”
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal