By Devin Corbitt
The first officially dedicated street sign for newly renamed Martin Luther King Jr Ave. was unveiled on Tuesday.
Rev. William Hill, who was instrumental in the renaming process, opened the ceremony with a warm welcome. Pastor Andy Davis of First Baptist Church of Belton then offered a few words and a prayer.
“Every time we travel this road and see the street signs, we will be reminded of the life, the work and the sacrifice of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” Davis said.
Mayor Jim Covington was the first featured speaker at the ceremony, and he extended his thanks to all those involved with the street renaming.
“I’m most happy that we got it done while I was still mayor,” he said. “It would have been a sad thing for me personally if we didn’t get this done.”
UMHB president Randy O’Rear then welcomed attendees to the UMHB campus and to express his honor at having the street run through it.
“The Mary Hardin-Baylor family could not be more proud to participate in this ceremony to honor such a great American,” O’Rear said. “Martin Luther King was passionate about justice, freedom, education and ministry. He fought for humanity and for those less fortunate. We are grateful for the opportunity to partner together with our community to remember Dr. King in a tangible way on this street that runs through our campus.”
Representing UMHB’s Association of Black Students, Alexa Stewart also expressed her hope in a brighter and more equal future.
“We are overcoming racial boundaries Dr. King fought to see banished,” Stewart said. “As a student and an African American student, this street means celebration, dedication, and motivation: the celebration of his life, his legacy and the lessons he began to teach; the dedication Dr. King possessed to seeing a better and brighter future for his children and the generations to come and the motivation that it gives me to continue to build his staircase.”
Dr. Alveda Celeste King then took the stage as attendees sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
“There’s so much we have to celebrate today. I commend each and every one who had anything to do with the naming of the street, down to being here today,” King said. “There’s one race: the human race. (The Kings) are part African, part Irish, and I’m part Native American – my mother’s part Cherokee. So there’s one human race, and that’s where we get the beloved community.”
King then unveiled the street sign amidst applause and exclamations of excitement. After “two years, two months, three weeks and eight hours,” according to Hill’s watch, his dream became a reality.