The Delaney Avenue Disappointment Should Make Us Stronger
I am a man of reason and try to look at things objectively. Today (1/27/14) at the City Council Chambers in Avon Park, the City Council voted unanimously against changing Delaney Avenue to Martin Luther King BLVD as well as Main Street. These were the only streets that were requested for this change.
I listened to the arguments from both sides and I was a proponent for this change of Delaney Avenue. But the Delaney Family brought to our attention the contributions of Mayor Delaney to AvonPark. Prior to this day, I really knew nothing about him and I think this was a disservice to our community and the City of Avon Park that nothing about him was published on the World Wide Web. But the Delaney family promised this will change soon.
They presented his memoirs with over 120 articles and spoke of his accomplishments as Mayor, to include starting South Florida Junior College, which is now South Florida State College which now offers 4 year degree programs, he helped open Walker Memorial Hospital and the Alcohol Rehabilitation Center here in Avon Park as well as ran the Crate Mill, providing jobs to many people. They say he was a humble man and a hard worker, who was not loud, but got things done. Their argument was to change this street would be to dishonor one man to honor another. And after listening to both sides I agree and it would be a divisive decision for our City to make this name change.
The City Council said they wanted a MLK BLVD somewhere and offered Verona Avenue to become MLK Avenue. But some of the people in the crowd yelled out “we don’t want it.” So it didn’t come to a vote. But South Delaney Avenue will not become MLK BLVD according to the City Council “ever,” so why cry over spilled milk? Why waste the energy of the black community whom has waken up to some degree and have come together on something, on a dead issue? When we can regroup to fight another more relevant battle, before like it our not it is a war with many battle fronts. We simply lost one battle many.
So I ask, is the name MLK more important than the real problems we face, like a community filled with unemployable young adults, a drug epidemic, an AIDS pandemic, adult illiteracy, violent street crimes and other plights? When they said we don’t want it, they were not speaking for me, because a street we did not specifically request is better than no street at all. My concern is the development of South Delaney Avenue and not the name it is called. I am more concerned with the lives of the people and not the name of the street they die on.
They are about to spend $625,000 on South Delaney Avenue and more is needed to resurrect the businesses there. The Southside Redevelopment Area is a Red Lining District. We need financial help to save these businesses, regardless of its name. And I think it is bad black leadership to continue this argument over the name of this street, when the decision was clearly made by the City Council not to rename it ever. And I do not think we can honestly raise the race card on this one. I think the City Council made a just decision based on the merits that was bought to the table and presented. Those for this change and I say again change simply did not make a strong enough argument to make this change, because the party for change are the underdogs to start with and to change something your argument must be compiling and it was not. I think after a cooling off period, we should submit another street and this time a street that wasn’t already changed in honor of someone else if possible.
I think we need to regroup and organize again and maybe settle for Verona Avenue and move to a new chapter or another battle front. There is simply too many problems in the black community for us to be tunnel versioned on this Delaney Avenue name change. Our real focus should be on the Delaney Avenue facelift into a revitalization starting in the form of this Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for $625,000. We should be looking into ways of reducing the criminal activities on our streets and the creation of jobs in our City.
So I asked those who want Delaney Avenue or nothing and want to waste all of our community resources on this fight WWDKD? What would Dr. King Do. He fought the battle for civil rights and equal opportunity for all people with the focus on the black community who had not equal rights and still do not. If we want to fight his fight, we need to get serious and map out our plans of action and make some real moves while we have the community interested in our community development. Everyone should know about this CDBG being applied for.
I am for building a better community, I am for less crime and more jobs through job creation and training programs. I am for less drugs on our streets and gun control. We in the black community of the Southside Redevelopment Area must come together on common grounds and find battles we can win and win them by any means necessary. We cannot afford to waste our energy over spilled milk. We must get back up and fight for something we can change
Frank Paul Jones