VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – The Virginia Beach City Council will soon consider a proposal to dedicate a portion of roadway to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Men of Faith wants to honor King, a man that has had widespread impact. They think this is way to do it, but some Virginia Beach residents disagree.
“The impact that King made on America affects us — not only Georgia, Alabama, but it affects us here in Virginia,” Men of Faith President Ron Taylor said.
He’s leading the charge for change.
“You’re not changing the street name. All you are doing is taking the sign, putting it over the Virginia Beach sign,” he said.
In a September letter to the city’s planning department, Taylor asks for a dedication to Dr. King at four intersections along Virginia Beach Boulevard at Birdneck, North Great Neck, Independence and Newtown Road.
Taylor said the concept has historical significance because it’s believed that Dr. King once stayed in the Seatack area during his visits.
“If he stayed down in the Seatack/Birdneck area, then if you follow Virginia Beach all the way to Norfolk, then you have Church Street, which connects. So, Virginia Beach would connect the two,” Taylor said.
“I would like to see consensus built especially from the African American community as to what they’d recommend,” Virginia Beach Mayor Sessoms said.
To get public opinion, last month the city held a virtual vote. With nearly 1,600 responses, more than half opposed the plan.
Both Mayor Sessoms and Taylor think the reason is because citizens thought the road was to be renamed.
“I think they are not educated on the facts,” Taylor said.
Both men believe with residents knowing the plan adds dedication signs, but doesn’t change the road name, it can move forward.
“I just don’t see this being an issue plan and simple. The only issue I see is trying to get the right road selected,” said Mayor Sessoms.
The online comment period has ended. Now, it’s up to the city manager to compile the data and submit it to council.
10 On Your Side did some digging and found out the only other city in Hampton Roads with no roadway named after Dr. King is Chesapeake.