I have been watching the squabbling over the naming of an existing Bremerton street in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with some interest.
When it comes to renaming community places or things for notable figures, I find it to be a slippery slope.
There are times where I have found the naming of a street to be very timely and appropriate. I consider the naming of Nathan Adrian Drive to be one of those times. Nathan is a local athlete of considerable accomplishment. The street that was chosen to bear his name did not have anyone living on it at the time as it is an area that is moving forward in the redevelopment process. The street selected also overlooks the aquatic center where Nathan spent much of his time training.
Currently there is a wonderful gem of a downtown library named after Dr. King. It is a peaceful place that I have visited many times. Within its walls resides a wealth of knowledge about Dr. King, his history, his message and his considerable impact on the world that we now know. The library is a lovely honor for the community with existing opportunities to move Dr. King’s legacy forward in a way that the name of a street never can.
The Kitsap Regional Library System struggles to financially keep up with the demands of the community. A fully stocked, staffed and operational library system is a critical component to an informed, civil and tolerant society. Something that Dr. King spent most of his life working for.
The ongoing efforts to rename a street after Dr. King have now moved into an area that is facing considerable community opposition, the continued waste of taxpayer funded city resources and a considerable out of pocket cost forced onto residents and businesses for an address change. This is one of those renaming situations that I consider to be inappropriate.
Efforts to honor Dr. King should be redirected towards assisting the library that is already named for him. The focus should always be on Dr. King and moving his legacy forward in the best way possible.
Support the Martin Luther King Jr. Library and use it to teach the history. Leave existing and developed Bremerton streets alone.
“We are not makers of history. We are made by history.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
Colleen Smidt is a longtime resident of Bremerton and writes weekly about community and political matters that affect Bremerton and the surrounding communities.