Bring Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to Lewes
More than two years ago, Lewes residents asked city officials to rename West Fourth Street in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
It’s a good idea, long overdue. It’s time for city officials to get the job done.
The Rev. George Edwards of Friendship Baptist Church, which sits on West Fourth Street, came back again to bring the issue before city council and remind council they are the ones who have the power to get this done.
He’s the same pastor who led the church to deed land in front of the church building to Lewes, allowing the city to connect West Fourth Street to New Road. It certainly seems fitting that the church that gave land to extend the street should have the right to name the street – an honorific name at the very least.
The West Fourth Street neighborhood, now in the historic district, was once a hub for Lewes’ active African-American community and home to two more prominent churches, St. Paul’s Methodist Church on West Fourth Street and St. George’s AME on Park Avenue. It was also home to the Happy Day Club, at the corner of West Fourth Street and DuPont Avenue, a place that in the 1940s and ‘50s brought big-name entertainers like Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington to Lewes.
This was an era, according to a Lewes Historical Society blog, when acts would play throughout the night – with whites attending in the second-floor balcony.
As chair of the Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice Steering Committee Charlotte King told council, African-Americans have lived in Lewes since at least the Colonial era. Naming the street in honor of Dr. King, she said, is a simple step toward recognizing the role the black community has played in Lewes history.
In a city whose core values include “Lewes is a community of diversity,” the question really should be what has taken city officials so long to honor such a modest request?