1 WALK THE HIGH ROAD: CAMOUFLAGING RACISM AND THE FLORIDA EXPERIENCE ALONG DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING J R. BOUVELARD B y STEVEN FENTON SPINA A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL F ULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2011
2 2011 Steven Fenton Spina
3 In recognition of the street naming pioneers featured in this dissertation: James and Joanna Tokley and their compatrio ts in Tampa Charles Smith for his efforts in Palmetto Irene Dobson and her neighbors in Zephyrhills LeRoy Boyd and Movement for Change in Pensacola. Without their courage and conviction, change would not have been realized
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I thank m y dissertation committee comprised of Dr. Sharon Austin, Dr. Larry Dodd, Dr. Stephanie Evans, Dr. David Hedge and Dr. Lynn Leverty for their guidance, patience and scholarly insights to this work. To my wife, Judy, who has believed in this project and supp orted me through the years of completing this dream of mine, and I recognize Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose long shadow is cast upon these pages and who inspired this project. His words below contribute to the title and ideals put forth within this di ssertation. We can choose either to walk the high road of human brotherhood or to generation an indescribably important destiny to complete a process of democratization which ou r nation has too long developed too slowly. The future of America is bound up in the present crisis. If America is to remain a first class nation, it cannot h ave a second class citizenship. Martin Luther King Jr. 1959 Stride Toward Freedom
5 TABLE OF CO NTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 7 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 8 One Giant Step Forward, Three Baby Steps Backward ................................ ............ 9 The Politics of a Street Naming ................................ ................................ .............. 13 Issu es Facing Government Leaders ................................ ................................ ....... 15 Case Studies ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 17 Hypotheses An Overview ................................ ................................ ..................... 18 Historic Vote ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 20 2 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK ................................ ................................ .................. 24 Resentment ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 27 Racial Boundaries ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 30 Similar Reactions ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 31 Methodology ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 31 3 TAMPA: CRITICAL RACE THEORY ................................ ................................ .......... 35 Getting Started ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 35 Minority Status ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 36 Rearranging the Furniture ................................ ................................ ....................... 37 Black versus White ................................ ................................ ................................ 39 Pirate versus King ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 40 Racial Attitudes of the Time ................................ ................................ .................... 42 Arguments on Buffalo Avenue: Voices of Opposition ................................ ............ 45 Social Distance ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 48 4 PALMETTO: SYSTEMIC RACISM ................................ ................................ ............. 50 Recognizing King ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 50 Minutes and Debates ................................ ................................ .............................. 51 Sunshine Violation Allegations ................................ ................................ ................ 53 State Attorney: Law Was Broken ................................ ................................ ............ 55 New Street Name? ................................ ................................ ................................ 56 No Easy Road ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 57 Systemic Racism ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 58 No Representation ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 59
6 5 ZEPHYRHILLS: MUNICIPAL EXCLUSION ................................ ................................ 62 Silent No More ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 62 The Idea of a Street Change ................................ ................................ ................... 62 How Sixth Avenue Was Selected ................................ ................................ ........... 64 The Zephyrhills Experience ................................ ................................ .................... 67 Finding Solutions ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 69 Municipal Exclusion and Underbounding ................................ ................................ 71 Remnants Remain ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 74 6 PENSACOLA: MINORITY REPRESENTATION ................................ ........................ 76 Movement for Change ................................ ................................ ............................ 76 The Pen sacola Experience ................................ ................................ ..................... 79 Multiple Votes ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 80 Change in Tactics ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 81 Voic es of Opposition Remain ................................ ................................ .................. 83 Compromise and Change ................................ ................................ ....................... 85 Alcaniz and King Revisited ................................ ................................ ..................... 87 Justice ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 87 7 CONCLUSION AND FINDINGS ................................ ................................ ................. 91 Overt Racism ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 91 Covert Reasoning ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 92 White Resistance ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 94 Racism Uncovered ................................ ................................ ................................ 96 Level Playing Field ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 97 Why Not Us? ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 98 The African American Point of View ................................ ................................ ..... 100 The Push for Equal Footing ................................ ................................ .................. 102 Modern Day Examples ................................ ................................ .......................... 104 Economic Fear ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 106 But is it Racism? ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 108 Coded and Isolated ................................ ................................ ............................... 111 Camouflaged and Invisible ................................ ................................ .................... 112 Difficult to Define ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 114 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 117 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 125
7 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy WALK THE HIGH ROAD: CAMOUFLAGING RACISM AND THE FLORID A EXPERIENCE ALONG DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING J R. BOUVELARD By Steven Fenton Spina May 2011 Chair: Sharon Wright Austin Major: Political Science The naming or renaming of streets for Martin Luther King is increasingly common in U.S. cities and towns. It t akes place in highly public debate and often creates controversy within a community exposing racial and political tensions that have previously been buried or ignored by residents This dissertation looks at the street naming process in four Florida commu nities over a 20 year time period and analyzes how different types of racial theories interact with the street naming process and if differences in those theories results in different types of protests from street naming opponents. Four racial theories a re analyzed -critical race theory, systemic racism, municipal exclusion and majority and minority representation -and are explored using case studies in Tampa in 1988, in Palmetto in 1994, in Zephyrhills in 2004 and in Pensacola in 1997 and again in 20 08, to determine if naming a street for Martin Luther King is an indication of how far race relations have come in the past 25 years or if there is more process to be made.
8 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Less than four months after the 1968 assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., civic and political leaders in Chicago proposed naming a street after the late civil rights leader. The street selected, South Park Way, was a major city roadway, but one located entirely with the predominately black south si de of the city (Dwyer, Alderman 2008, 52). With this renaming, and the arguments that accompanied it, the idea had been born to recognize King with commemoration of his life and work through naming a street in his honor. This tradition continues today th roughout the United States, with a strong emphasis in the South, where King was born and the region most troubled by racial strife. Today, nationwide, 42 years after the death of Dr. King, more than 890 streets bear his name, including 92 communities in F lorida ( Alderman 2011 ) 1 The manners in which these streets are renamed vary from community to community and place to place, but many also share attributes depending on the geography of the street, if or how it impacts the white community and how divis ive the issue becomes. According to geographer and professor Derek Alderman, the movement to name streets after King originates within the black community as a experi 2006, 217). It also serves as a tool to recognize the contributions of African Americans commensurate w ith those of white Americans. Yet the effort to honor the definitive black leader in American history is often wrought with turmoil, protests and opposition from white residents and resentment,
9 accusations and disappointment from the black community. Fr om the first street renaming in Chicago in 1968 to the ongoing process that has lasted more than 10 years in Pensacola, Florida, the street naming procedure has been a silent partner to the ongoing discussions of race and racial progress within the United States. From the th century to civil strife and war in 1860 to the election in 2008 of the first African American president, race has been a major issue within our social and political structures. In small cities and large, in urban counties or rural, street renaming proposals to honor Dr. King have served as barometers of race and remains a method of determining how far this nation needs to go to resolve its racial divisions. One Giant Step Forward, Three Baby Steps Backward Washington Post /ABC News poll found that twice as many blacks as whites believe racism remains a problem in the United States, while twice as many whites as blacks believe that blacks have achieved racial equality. 2 Further, a CNN poll in 2008 found 72% of whites believe that blacks overestimate the amount of discrimination against them while 82% of blacks believe whites underestimate racial discriminat ion against blacks. 3 In addition, the Washington Post problem. 4 Obviously, blacks and whites view r acism through a different prism. Paradoxically, as Americans both blacks and whites traveled to the polls to vote for indicate that Swedish social scientist Gunnar My
10 tion with the party after mail to other party officials. The official, according to the Tampa Tribune is the third prominent Republican in four months to be snared in controversy over e mail questioned how two million African Americans could to travel to Washington D.C. for Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. 5 A similar sentiment is expressed in a letter to the editor referencing the differences between Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and river flooding or the government to come and save 6 These are subtle expressions of racism, based on broad stereotypes when the reality of the situat ions under comparison is totally different. Still other examples exist. Again in Tampa, a Confederate Memorial Park opened to public fanfare on April 25, 2009. The park opening is a follow up to the installation of a 150 square foot Confederate flag that was unveiled in the summer of 2008. The flag adorns the park site, which is located at the intersections of Interstates 4 and 75, just east of downtown Tampa. Sponsors of the park state they are interested in projecting a realistic history of the Confed and political issues involved. We want to bring about a dialogue on those issues and
11 7 according to one lation was prompted in 2008 as a protest when the Board of County Commissioners in Hillsborough County declined to issue a proclamation in recognition of Confederate Memorial Day. Just prior to the national election, in October 2008, another issue aro se, this time Pensacola City Council with a request to name a portion of a street after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In 1998, Pensacola renamed a portion of Alcaniz S treet to MLK Drive. Escambia County followed suit, and renamed all portions of Alcaniz Street outside the city limits to Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. The October 2008 request sought to change another portion of Alcaniz within the City of Pensacola to ML K Drive. After opposition from citizens and a majority of City Council members, Movement for Change Pensacola News website. Some raised legitimate issues, including the historic nature of Alcaniz, a name that dates back to the Spanish colonization period in Pensacola, such community to lose P en s acola history in order to name a street for an other historical 8 Yet other comments, similar to those often made in other communities new streets. Alcaniz is an established street. MLK need (sic) to be put on a new street. Not only that, but MLK had nothing to
12 eah less (sic) replace Alcaniz Street with a fornica ting communist. 9 are used to hold gains realized by African Americans to a bare minimu m. Thus, establishing national holidays, embracing African American icons, and renaming streets for Martin Luther King Jr. serve as legitimate social indicators to illuminate perceptions in the black community that many white Americans continue to struggl e with issues of race and equality and react to racial concerns when an event be it politically or socially oriented appears to impact their self interests. This dissertation will attempt to determine if these social perceptions provide insight into p olitical and electoral processes and the role race plays in the larger equation. For example, does the manner in which a community handles the seemingly minor issue of naming or renaming a street after a civil rights icon indicate the manner in which it t reats its minority residents in general? Moreover, the reactions of citizens to the naming or renaming of a street also has major implications for future race relations. Previously published literature indicates that white Americans fear economic reperc ussions when their property (residential or commercial) or business is linked with African American icons as well as the larger issue of association with African American neighborhoods in general. As will be demonstrated further, several scholars recogni ze that some whites believe that residence in close proximity to black neighborhoods threatens their social status. These
13 issues indicate that race remains a salient issue in American society despite the election of an African American president. The Pol itics of a Street Naming One of the most contentious issues that a community may address concerns the renaming of a street in their community after slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. In community after community, similar protestations arise when the street renaming is proposed or expanded upon from black neighborhoods into white areas. Alderman notes that the majority of streets named in honor of Dr. King are located within the southeastern United States, yet concerns of white residents mirro r one another nationally, whether the street is located in Greenville, Mississippi; Eugene, Oregon; Zephyrhills, Florida; or Quincy, Illinois. Reasons throughout the country are strikingly similar, ranging from economic concerns, to cultural identity, to dislike for the civil rights leader (he was anti war, a Communist, a womanizer), according to Alderman in an interview in the Register Guard newspaper, Eugene, Ore. (June 11, 2003). Comments from street opponents in Florida communities also were critical war stance (Zephyrhills) and continued allegations that he was a Communist (Palmetto). to force racial integration on them, not because they oppose racial equalit y, but because sentiments as whites claim a forced renaming infringes on their rights and constitutes reverse racism. One common thread in different communities durin g street naming episodes is that whites are being forced to accept a civic leader for whom they feel little or no affinity. That concept was supported by one resident in a letter to the editor during es. Some we share, others we
14 Americans are very passionate about King. Many whites African Americans do, and we 10 water when the tools to implement those concepts are not supported (Schuman, Steeh, Bobo and Krysan 1997, 308 street naming, whites often propose other means to recognize King and suggest naming of a park, library or other civic structure for the slain civil rights leader. It is believed that such commemoration has less impact on the personal or private space of residents. A second common feature of the street naming debate focuses on the actual street naming process conducted by the local government. Seldom will opponents state that they oppose the street naming after King. Instead, they argue that the local government failed to adequat ely advise property owners of the proposed change, failed to follow procedures for changing street names or otherwise criticize the regulatory process. That was a major argument in Zephyrhills, where one resident ran for City Council solely on that issue according to the Tampa Trib une 11 Thus, the naming of a street does fuel speculation that undercurrents of racism exist below the surface. Professor Derrick Bell maintains
15 that whites only advance racial tolerance or benefits when it either promotes their own self interest or does n ot threaten or lessen white status (Crenshaw, Gotanda, Peller and Thomas 1995, 22). A street named for a black man, even a recognized civil rights icon, can threaten in the eyes of many whites property values, business opportunities and economic develo pment. To Bell, the interests of blacks are advanced only when it concerns of middle and upper class whites (1995, 22). Issues Facing Government Leaders A variety of i ssues surface as public managers and elected officials confront public dialogue and debate about how (and where) best to commemorate King with a street name. Among areas of concern is confronting the racial composition and blending of races within their co responsibility to private businesses and residences situated on public streets and thoroughfares. Frequently residents and business owners fronting on a particular street believe they have the only le gitimate stake in whether the street is renamed while others who simply travel the roadway do not. Public managers also need to understand how to best enact or follow policies and procedures on the naming of public streets and the larger issue of consideri ng and protecting minority rights in a majority rule system. Geography, race and history all factor into the street naming equation. Vestiges of the past, particularly in the South, have resulted in many cases with communities with residents that still l ive separate and distinct lives in separate and distinctive neighborhoods defined by race. In many smaller southern towns, African Americans were excluded from the municipal boundaries. The reasons were numerous: to prevent
16 them from voting in municipal elections, to segregate neighborhoods and to limit the need to provide basic municipal services such as water and sewer, paved roads or streetlights to black neighborhoods. Thus, the political needs of those excluded are not responsibility. Being located outside the municipal (2004) and result in political insignificance as well. In many cities past racial oppression often restricted blacks to the least favorable areas, such as lower lying areas, across railroad tracks and in the vicinity of landfills and dumps. According to Camilla Stivers in American cities, practices of racial segregation concentrated middle and upper income whites in outlying suburbs (in New Orleans, literally on higher ground) and blacks in the quite lit This racial history creates modern day remnants of segregation that help to blur the lines of the street naming process. In smaller communities, black residents often are found living outside the city limits, thus limiting their standing in the political arena to seek a street name community wide. In larger metropolitan cities, majority black areas are often confined to low er income and crime ridden pockets where streets do not have the status or significance for a street naming after King that would connect disparate communities.
17 Case Studies Three primary areas of concern regarding the street naming phenomenon occur in mo st every community when the issue of naming a street after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is raised. Those aspects center around the physical location of the street, its political or social impact on the neighborhood or community and the potential ec onomic impact it may have on that physical area. Social implications include those that residents perceive may affect them through integration or other associations with race in their neighborhoods. First are spatial concerns the physical location of the street, the neighborhoods it crosses and intersects and the impact the street has on white neighborhoods and business districts. According to Alderman, in small towns and large cities, the debate over the naming of streets in honor of King is framed a round the physical geography of confining or limiting the street naming to African American neighborhoods as opposed to selection of a street of more significance that crosses over into white areas (2000, 672). For many African Americans, if the street si gns and name are designated in only the black neighborhood that limitation reinforces the idea that in spite of all the changes and advancements, Americans as a whole still reside in segregated communities, living separate lives. Metaphorically, blacks rem ain in their place and whites are in theirs. Secondly are economic factors. These concerns basically center around two arguments. First, many businesses will complain of the cost of changing stationery, business letterheads and envelopes and other operati ng costs (Alderman 2000, 672). Residential opponents share the same concerns as well as costs of obtaining new Residents will even complain about the potential costs to the c ommunity of erecting new
18 12 The second and primary concern centers on property values and social perceptions. A ccording to Alderman, the argument against renaming a major financial costs of changing their address and the social stigma as they see it, of being associated with the black particularly those dealing with property values and social fears are germane to virtually every street naming controversy, there is little or no empirical or quantitative analysis on the impact of street naming on property values or economic development. Hypotheses A n Overview Hypothesis 1: Because overt expressions of racism are no longer acceptable in American society, this dissertation will explore how racism will be exhibited in political ar enas when majority populations oppose renaming a street after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Hypothesis 2: I t is apparent that different patterns of racism developed in all four cities. Do these differences result in similar patterns of opposition to the str eet naming process? Numerous social and political aspects will be considered including the racial make up of the governmental body, who initiated the street naming request, how the debate took place and how the issue was finally resolved. Among them to be considered in the placement in a predominately black area or mixed racial demographic; community racial demographics and divisions; social bounding (based on past segregation practices); economic status and condition of a community (business district, residential
19 neighborhoods, high crime areas, low income neighborhoods); and white acceptance of Dr. King as a national leader. Social indicators impact economic concerns regarding street naming, including economic status and condition of a community and neighborhood standing. Several scholars have found evidence that whites are hesitant about living in neighborhoods that are adjacent to or near African American or racially mixed neighborhoods. Charles R. Lawrence III suggests that for many whites, living in close proximity to black culture, and to live in proximity to those who Peller and Thomas, 1995, 250). Richard Thompson Ford reinforces this theory. Residence, he states, is more than simply a person Alderman notes that analyzing King understanding how blacks struggle to incorporate their achievements into the na African t A primary question regarding property values is one that centers around the theory that property values will decline or not increase as quickly if located on a street bearing the name of an Af rican Another aspect of the economic equation concerns the viability of economic
20 development along streets named after King in both predominately white or minority neighborhoods. Existing literature in dicates that white property owners and business owners express concern that the location of their business on a street named for King will have a negative impact and economic growth will consequently suffer or encourage blacks to move to those newly named neighborhoods. Streets located in lower income neighborhood leads to lower property values and negatively impacts or restricts economic growth in those neighborhoo ds. The focus of this analysis will be on four Florida communities in which residents sought to name thoroughfares after King. Through linear analysis ranging over a 20 year period of the street naming process in all four communities, beginning with a str eet renaming in 1988 in Tampa to the latest attempt in Pensacola in 2008, the focus will be on similar situations that arise in each community, with arguments and opposition to the street naming process, and with a look at individual situations that are un ique to each city. Historic Vote On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama, the junior senator from Illinois, was elected president of the United States of America. Mr. Obama received 67 million votes and 52.7% of the popular vote and 365 electoral votes. His opponent, Arizona Senator John McCain, received 58 million votes equaling 45.9% of the popular vote and 173 electoral votes. 13 This historic vote saw Americans elect the first African American to lestone erases the racial quandary that has plagued the United States since its inception, from slavery to segregation and Jim Crow laws and what Gunnar Myrdal eloquently summed up as the
21 ivil Rights era and would herald through social custom what in the last century has been provided by law: equal rights and access for all American citizens. The purpose of this research is to provide documentation that despite the enactment of laws and ge neral consensus on principles of equality, including the election of the first African American president, white opposition to social progress for blacks remains an issue, however covertly or symbolically expressed, and may be manifested in a variety of me thods, ranging from opposition to racial policy preferences (i.e. affirmative action), hesitancy in general in supporting black candidates for office (or the suspicion of providing false responses to polling questions involving black candidates) preserva tion of white power structures and other acts that reinforce perceptions on racial attitudes. Further, societal or community factors, more subtle This research discusses the reactions to renaming streets after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther K ing Jr. as evidence that this racial threat continues. It could be argued that racism is camouflaged behind comments and objections that are designed to derail a street naming proposal yet not reveal racial hostilities of the person or group objecting to t he name change. Because racial attitudes have changed and because blatant expressions of racism are no longer socially acceptable, subtle expressions remain a factor in race relations in the United States. Studies support the idea that racism is not an a cceptable
22 attribute in American society and that overt racist behavior is unacceptable, yet covert determine and differ from past representations as described by V.O. Key an d Myrdal. Yet ultimately, the symbolic approach of overt politics produces similar results when owners in order to provide societal and political outcomes that protect the s tatus quo (Knuckley and Orey 2000, 13). Four communities have been earmarked for this analysis. They are Tampa, which underwent a name change process in 1988, Palmetto, in Manatee County, addressed the street naming issue in 1994, the City of Pensacola, which underwent a two and half year struggle from 1997 to 1999 and then re opened the process only to drop it in 2008, and Zephyrhills, in Pasco County, which took up the issue in 2004. Through the use of these case studies spanning a linear demarcation in Florida from the beginning of the street naming phenomenon that lasted 20 years, this research will assess changes in the processes of the street naming procedures and reactions from residents and le aders. 1 Alderman, Derek and Steven F. Spina Exclusion and the Politics of Meeting of the Southern American Studies Association, Atlanta, GA, February, 2011 2 B ed columnist, New York Times February 21, 2009 3 I bid 4 Washington Post /ABC News poll, January 13 16, 2009, washingtonpost.com/politics/documents 5 Mail Tampa Tribune February 6, 2009 6 Lellenmand, John, Tampa Tribune April 4, 2009 2B 7 Tampa Tribune April 3, 2009 access online, TBO.com, April 4, 2009
23 8 Pensacola News Journal archives, accessed February 15, 2009, http://search.pnj.com 9 Ibid 10 Mo re house, B St. Petersburg Times May 4, 2004 PC 2 11 Tampa Tribune April 30, 2004, Pasco 1 12 Snyder, Melissa, Letter to Zephyrhills City Council, March 30, 2004 13 npr.org/news/election 2008
24 CHAPTER 2 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK Conventional wisdom and theory implies that politics helps provide a level playing field within governmental organizations and society in general. Thus politics serves to protect individual autonomy and dignity and promotes equal access to economic and political syste ms. The federal civil rights laws of the 1960s were based on the premise that African Americans needed legal protections they previously had been denied. Legal action alone, however, including those designed to protect civil Racial attitudes have radically changed in the United States since passage of the differences between races provi de for superior or inferior traits no longer dominates Centuries of belief that black rationalize their behavior and discriminatory actions. As a result, race remains a determining factor in the att itudes of both whites and blacks and helps explain how racial attitudinal differences continue to influence societal and political events. While public opinion strongly favors the principle of racial equality (Knuckley and Orey 2000, 4), camouflaged attit udes, belief and feeling continue to exist and impact political impact on black residents of New Orleans, she recognized the different circumstances facing the mino rity residents in more flood prone areas and many without personal
25 transportation and access to escape routes (2007, 50). A variety of factors contributed to this differing landscape. Primarily, as previously addressed, more blacks lived in the lower war ds and areas more prone to flooding while whites lived in the suburbs and on higher ground, fewer blacks had access to private vehicles to escape the storm and the black poverty rate in New Orleans was three times that of whites (2007, 50). The issue o f race has long been a contentious issue in American political and social situations. From the advent of slavery in colonial America to the Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954, race has been a recurring theme throughout the history of the United St ates. The topic was one that many politicians attempted to sidestep as evidenced in the compromises that resulted in the formulation of the U.S. Constitution and subsequent acts of Congress regarding slavery. According to Carmines and Stimson (1989) the i ssue often was too contentious for politicians and the party system. It emerged as a partisan issue during the civil rights movement and has since maintained its prominence in the defining of racial cleavages in American politics. In 1944, Myrdal explore racism and democracy, American Dilemma: the Negro Problem and Modern Democracy (Schuman, et al 1997, 11). This con flict between the founding of a nation based on the reality of a legal system of segregation, degradation and discrimination against blacks erodes the core of the fun questioned a system that while proclaiming to provide true democracy for its citizens,
26 simultaneously sought to systematically exclude specific segments from those traditions. A wide variety of Alderman, a noted scholar and cultural geography professor at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C who specializes in the areas of spatial memorization and the political conundrums that potentially follow will be featured. Other literature, relating to the geographical issues of race and progress, include works by Richard Thompson Ford (1995) and art icles regarding political boundaries, political segregation and municipal Allan Parnell. These neighborhood locations are often remnants of past segregation policies in man y communities. In Living as Equals Phyllis Palmer notes that the flight from the inner cities to the suburbs in the 1950s continues to this day, although in a of real (20 08, 242) The literature review will also provide historical perspectives by reviewing Southern Politics (1949). In his now historic study Key recognized the importance of race in the South and its impact on e
27 go back to the Negro. Whatever phase of the southern political process one seeks to studying the region prior to the civil rights movement, yet his study fully recognized the impact of racial politics. In that pre civil rights era, whit e supremacy was in full strength and racial politics were open and vicious. These earlier works will aid in exploring progress that has been realized over the past sixty years or more in the United States relating to racial issues and will assist in explai ning different levels of discrimination and racial intolerance in the United States over the past several decades. Carmines and Stimson (1989) explore the theory of issue evolution while a number of authors recognize the change from the overt, hostile raci the modified covert areas of symbolic racism, racial resentment, racial threat and 1997, Voss 1996, and Hughes 1997). Finally, Crenshaw, Gotanda, Peller and Thomas racism and opposition to affirmative action and other race based programs. Resentment Resentment drives much of the racial debate today. White opposition to racial equality grows in direct proportion to a push by African Americans for more access to political and community opportunity. Robert A. Dentler argues that along with the (Clayton 1996, 36). Whites can theoretically absolve themselves of being racists and in fact many believe that to be factual. Yet when instances occur that threaten the status to accept racial compromises results in a push of its own back to preserve its perceived
28 rightful place and protect its self interests. Symbolic racism surfaces, reflecting resentment and antagonism, but also real group conflict (Tuch, Martin 1997, 49). more substantial racial conflicts. Symbolic racism, coupled with self interest, affords the opportunity to foresee that whites will oppose actions or policies that they deem to be against their best interests. This defensive behavior leads to the assumption of racism, with white concerns over job availability or promotions, property values and safety. Part of white reluctance to accept incremental black progress (integrated neighbo rhoods, street namings) may be based on the reality of perception. They fear other whites will consider their properties to be devalued if associated with black history or other racial ties. Hughes maintains that as blacks continue to integrate into the la rger white society and achieve professional, personal and economic parity, that progress further threatens white status and opportunities creating a new climate of racial resentment (Tuch, Martin 1997, 73). When white residents protest a proposed street renaming and claim they are not racist, they may be dealing with two subjective issues: the idea of unconscious general. Therefore, they generate reasons unassociated with race to oppose the project. There is the inconvenience of changing their address and papers, costs of opposition to the Vietnam War. Race is never the issue raised w hen white opponents approach the podium to speak out against the street renaming.
29 Charles R. Lawrence III suggests that for many whites, living in close proximity to one 1995, 250). Alderman concurs regarding the fear whites express of living o r working on MLK about the economic impact of having their street identified with King, and as they s systematic of social distances; it is a matter of political fragmentation and economic stratification tes and perpetuates racial races in Louisiana (featuring former Klansman David Duke) that racial conflicts do not onomic or political competition, but ble, racists couch their assume that racial prejudice is not an important unde r girding of contemporary political
30 Racial Boundaries but residential living patterns still result in de facto segregation in many communities. In e of political identity and economic community is another legitimate aspect of obtai ning a say and earning a role in community life. or a street that only intersect s with the black community limits the opportunity for cultural neighborhoods result in uniquely disadvantaged environments that become progressively isolated geographi cally, socially and economically from the rest of (Ford 19 isdiction. He finds that for racial minorities (particularly those that do not conform to the Anglo
31 must have the opportunity to change the character of the community Similar Reactions Reactions to street namings in these four selected cities mirror those in other cities across the nation (Alderman 2000, 673; 2003, 163) where black residents, s eeking recognition and acceptance of their cultural icons, have proposed naming streets after Martin Luther King Jr. With the designation of a federal holiday named after the slain civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr. has become a focal point of bl ack his persona and name are central to most commemorative efforts. For many whites, however, King remains an enigma. According to Caesar McDowell, acceptance of King and his holiday remains elusive because of white common language of human dignity. Bu t to many white people he remains primarily a Methodology The four case studies that comprise the bulk of this dissertation also reflect four different types of racial t heory and how racial politics, even those enacted generations ago, impact how Americans live today. While each chapter ties one form of racial theory with one community, each community experiences different forms of racism in a variety of ways. As an exam ple, the chapter featuring Zephyrhills and its street naming experiences focuses on municipal exclusion. However, critical race theory, minority representation and systemic racism also played a role in the Zephyrhills experience.
32 The same is true for the other communities featured. An aspect of this study will be to determine if different patterns of racism emerge when more than one type of racist situation exists in a community. For example, municipal exclusion and majority minority representation is a factor in Zephyrhills. Does that provide for different reactions from street naming opponents than if only one racial situation was present ? The Tampa street naming chapter highlights the critical race theory because of the ideals that many whites do not object to street namings or other gains for blacks as long as they do not interfere with their neighborhoods, jobs or social significance. Derrick Bell in Critical Race Theory: the Key Writings that Formed the Movement (1995) is a strong proponent of cr itical race theory and the ideals that the sharing of white power is something white power structures will consider only when it will prove beneficial to their ultimate cause, or at least not detrimental. Roy Brooks, in his analysis of race relations in t he age of Barak Obama ( Racial Justice in the Age of Obama 2008) also views racism through the lens of critical race theory. His analogy of rearranging the living room is an apt description of how whites control the communities we live and work in. S o Poor and So Black: Hurricane Katrina, Public Administration and the Issue (2007), Camilla Stivers offers insight in how public administration responds to crisis in her look at New Orleans and the impact of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Yet she a lso provides a look at how long established housing and residential patterns impact both white and black residents and how segregationist practices of the past continues to have negative consequences for African American residents.
33 In the Zephyrhills chap ter, the focus is on municipal exclusion and the theory that municipal boundary and annexation practices of the 1950s and 1960s Jim Crow era systematically excluded blacks from living in towns and cities and therefore denied them a voice and vote in lo cal government, as well as the delivery of public services such as access to municipal water systems, fire hydrants, sewer and police and fire protection. Parnell in detail s how practices of the past impact living patterns today and continue to exclude blacks from life in a community. In New Orleans, blacks lived in the lower parts of the city, more vulnerable to floods and storm damage. In Zephyrhills, for many years blac ks were isolated across railroad tracks. Residency within the city became an issue during the Martin Luther King Jr. street naming debates with city residents charging that black residents living across the tracks were not city residents and therefore did not have standing to change a street name that crossed into the city limits. In Pensacola, despite the persistence of a grass roots organization focused on naming a street after Dr. King, their numbers and influence kept them struggling to have their voice s heard. Minority representation is an issue that Carol Swain addresses in her 1995 study entitled, Black Faces, Black Interests, the Representation of African Americans in Congress Swain discusses the dilemma of representation and the ability or inab ility to have African American interests addressed at the political level. Although two African Americans sat on the Pensacola City Council, minority residents were unable to penetrate the white controlled majority until they resorted to other tactics to get the attention of the community at large.
34 Palmetto experiences a similar problem with one African American member in a white majority controlled Council. Joe Feagin discusses systemic racism in the United States today in Racist America: Roots, Curre nt Realties and Future Reparations (2000) and explores the idea that many whites are not aware of the systemic racism that continues today and that offers all the advantages political, economic, educational to whites and leaves blacks disadvantaged. The Palmetto experience is particularly interesting because in that city the mayor and three other white council members held a special meeting without advising the black representative, and voted unanimously to rescind the naming of a street after Dr. Ki ng. That process led to accusations of renamed for King. Opponents of the street renaming often cite economic or financial issues with the street naming process. Se veral articles, including an economic study by Dr. Alderman call into repute those claims. That aspect will also be explored in the concluding chapter.
35 CHAPTER 3 TAMPA: CRITICAL RACE THEORY Getting Started In 1987, a small group of black residents fro m local activist groups and black churches began meeting at the west Tampa home of James and Joanna Tokley. Joanna Tokley was the president of the Tampa Urban League. Others represented included the NAACP, Start Together on Progress or STOP, the Tampa Organization on Black Affairs (TOBA), and several prominent black churches. Their goal: to rename a street in Tampa after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Local civil rights activist Al Davis 1 first suggested the idea that year, and recommended two stree ts: either Buffalo Avenue, an east west street that cross the entire city and extended eastward into unincorporated Hillsborough County, or Nebraska Avenue, a north south route that paralleled what was then Interstate 75. The renaming process would take t hese 15 to 20 activists two years to accomplish, necessitate agreement with and passage of ordinances by both the City Council of the City of Tampa and the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, fight off attempts to select less visible streets and a strong opposition from residents and businesses on Buffalo Avenue, the street finally selected. Today Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Tampa at 14 miles in length is one Luther King Jr. compromise on the street name and instead suggested Ashley Street in do wntown Tampa as the street to be designated and named after Dr. King. Black residents opposed that move and the black newspaper, the Florida Sentinel Bulletin called the
36 2 throu 3 This chapter will explore the Tampa experience during the street renaming of Buffalo Avenue in 1988. This is the first city in the four case studies to undertake the naming of a street after Dr. King and as the first city studied will fit into the overall dissertation by gauging the attitudes and issues associated with the street name change in the late 1980s. This chapter will also assess how critical race theory is pertine nt to racial issues in 1988 and today. Minority Status 4 These numbers hindered black progress, according to th e street activists and the local black press. As Rudolph Harris argued in the Sentinel Bulletin black people are outnumbered in cities like Tampa, members of the majority have been quick to inject the use of popular appeal in de ciding even those moral questions. Black people in Tampa can seldom expect to win anything if the numbers game is used as the Harris noted that there has been great improvement over the years in terms of racial relations, many the resu 5 This coincides with critical race theory promoted by Professor Derrick Bell and others who maintain that whites only advance racial tolerance or benefits for blacks when it either promotes their own self interest or does not threaten or lessen white status (1995, 22).
37 The goal of those 15 to 20 residents meeting in the Tokley den in 1987 was to bring to Tampa what had been occurring in other cities, a street named after Dr. King as a lasting tribute to the late civil rights leader. Many smaller cities, including Gainesville, according to Joanna Tokley, were naming streets and Tampa residents believed Tampa was lacking in honoring Dr. K ing and in unifying themselves as the black community. In Tampa, it was time. Rearranging the Furniture Despite the advances made in race relations that Rudolph Harris recognized even in 1988, race remains a contentious and complex issue in America today. Roy L. Brooks agrees with the tenants of critical race theory promoted by Professor Bell and bout two roommates in a new apartment. One roommate arrives first and arranges the furniture to her liking and standards. When the second roommate arrives, she wishes to make some changes that the first roommate finds objectionable. Some minor accommodat ions are made, but the overall situation remains the same. The first 89). Brooks uses this analogy to describe the principles of critical race theory and the idea that whit e action is not always directed against blacks, but is instead designed to resources in black society are sustained by white hegemony. Whites have power, and hen use their power to stay in control. Whites then use their control, through government,
38 white males, In Tampa in 1987, only one African American served on the 7 member City Council and no blacks sat on the County Commission. Blacks feared that their failur e to achieve this symbolic gesture to name a street after Dr. King could doom their this city to gain anything of economic substance. This is particularly true if th e King 6 In a community where only one in four residents were African American (and less than one in five in the county), blacks found it difficult to earn a seat at the table let alone help r earrange the furniture to so that they could achieve equal representation the day in a majority white system and that such a system results in what Brooks labels towards equality are always contingent upon whether promoting those gains serves t he interest of white society. the Civil War and issuing the Emancipation Proclamation as a method to save the union, not because of his opposition to slavery. While Brooks n opposition to slavery, he asserts that the president would have not freed the slaves if it would have preserved the nation (2009, 98). Bell too cites as an example the progress of the South emerging from a rural, agricultural based society to its attraction as the
39 Sunbelt with opportunity for growth and development only when it shed its state In order to prosper, white Southerners had to conform and shed the obvious symbols of racism and segregation. Changes were not made to benefit the social position of blacks, but to improve the business climate of whites. In Tampa, the opposition carried similar sentiments. They were not opposed to a street named after Dr. King, they simply did not want it to be their street, in their neighborhood. Black versus White The fact that the Tampa street naming process took two years to accomplish is an indicat ion that the white establishment and residents along Buffalo Avenue were not in favor of the change. The movement to honor Dr. King with a street naming developed within the black community, and started as a black movement, according to Joanna Tokley. On ce it began, however, whites were drawn into it, she said, including prominent politicians supporting the idea such as Tampa City Councilwoman Linda Saul Sena and County Commissioners Jan Platt and Pam Iorio. Other white groups also offered support, such a s the National Conference of Christians and Jews and the League of Women Voters. The bulk of the opposition came from Buffalo Avenue residents, property owners and businesses. Saul Sena agrees that the issue developed into a mostly black white confrontat ion that, as Tokley said, later attracted white residents to the cause. The Tampa City Council in 1987 and 1988 was not a Avenue after Dr. King failed on January 14, 1988 by four votes to three. 7 Members
40 the personal impact on residents on Buffalo Avenue. Proponents questioned the timing of the vote, originally scheduled for January 28, 1 988, and vowed to march on City Hall to seek justice. The Tampa Tribune referred 3 vote by the City Council on Thursday gutted an effort to rename Buffalo Avenue after Martin Luther King Jr., prompting council member Perry Harv 8 Proponents hearing as required. 9 Criticism of the procedural processes undertaken to rename a street are a common occurrence and in some instances are tools used by the opponents of the street naming and other times, as in Tampa, questioned by the proponents. Cost s of the process, cost of street sign changes and costs to businesses and residential properties on the street also are frequent issues raised in opposition to the street naming process. Pirate versus King Proponents of the Martin Luther King Jr. stre et naming were growing frustrated at the excuses and roadblocks erected to the proposal to rename Buffalo Avenue by residents and council members alike. One of the most prevalent reasons cited to oppose the street name change was fears of the financial im pact to taxpayers and the cost of changing out and erecting new street signs. In Tampa, due to the 14 mile length of Buffalo Avenue, the estimated cost of new street signs was $32,000. The cost factors arguments angered backers of the street name c hange. Rudolph Harris, columnist at the Florida Sentinel Bulletin suggested Martin Luther King
41 Jr. supporters should host events to raise the necessary funds to cover the costs. According to the Sentinel Bulletin (January 29, 1988), street backers suppor ted that plan of action. business owners for printing and stationery changes. By compromising on defraying costs, leaders of the street renaming effort thought they could make the major issues go away, and satisfy the majority opposition. The fundraising component did not allay all opposition however and taxpayer concerns continued to be vocalized, again raising the ire of proponents. Worrying about the cost of street signs was hypoc ritical, they argued. In fact, Tampa has a rich history festival. The cost of hosting the festival, held since 1904, falls on the city in terms of setting up seating and bl eachers, hiring overtime paramedics and police, public works employees and other expenses. As a result, the Sentinel Bulletin editorialized, 10 Hosting these festivals yearly costs the city lars annually in preparation and facilitation of the the city could spend funds on the Gasparilla festival year after year and not afford a onetime fee to change street sig ns. It further pondered how the city could use Jose Gaspar as a marketing tool and not consider the impact of recognizing Dr. King and all he accomplished and stood for in his crusade for civil rights. King's message, the editorial reasoned, was a better advocacy and highlighted the differences between Jose Gaspar and Dr. King and the subsequent messages of violence versus non violence. In addition, for 87 years, the invading krewes that swept ashore each year were comprised
42 of political and business whi te elites. (In 1990, a year Tampa was poised to host the Super Bowl, black activists sought inclusion in the Gasparilla festivities. As a result, the krewe withdrew from the annual event rather than integrate its membership. By 1992, the krewe relented a nd accepted four African American members. 11 ) Yet the Sentinel persisted. The movement to rename Buffalo Avenue after Dr. King would help move pirate, why not a King a Racial Attitudes of the Time The white power structure in Tampa pushed back on the Martin Luther King Jr. 12 voted to approve the na me change in September 1989. The vote was four to three. Thirty five years after the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision and 25 years after the signing of the Civil Rights Act, American blacks particularly in the South found themselves in a different type of battle. Blatant discrimination and Jim Crow segregation was gone. But in its place was a more subtle form of racism, called others. While these more in sidious forms of racism allowed whites to criticize or oppose specific aspects of black progress civil rights leaders pushed too hard or government programs favored blacks (1997, 49) they also are indicative of or symbolic of gains that blacks are able to make that may cross over to other areas and lessen white power and privilege in society. The dual fear that blacks push too hard and are moving too fast coupled with the belief that government programs such as busing and affirmative action give black s preferential treatment create feelings of resentment in white power
43 structures. Whites begin to question the values of blacks, not their inferiority and resent their perception that they do not have the same work ethics as others. Instead, whites use a issues need to be put to rest and government programs geared to the black community are providing African Americans undeserved and unnecessary advantages (Orey 2001, 237). Hughe and as blacks merge into the mainstream of American society, frictions between the into main (1997, 73). This fear is exhibited in the street naming process as well. In Tampa, o ne justification for voting against the street naming was the passion and opposition of the white residents on Buffalo Avenue. City Councilman Eddie Caballero said he received r issue. There is no way I am going to shove this down the throat of the people on Buffalo 13 According to the Tribune the primary reasons for opposing the street name change were the costs of changing business stationery, an d street and building sign costs. 14 Social distance is another arena that interacts with the idea of racial harmony. members of a group to accept or approve of interacti ons with members of an out (Herring and Amissah 1998, 122). In a racial context, it reflects the degree in which
44 members of one race are disinclined to accept or be associated with members of another race or ethnic group. On a major street interse cting with white neighborhoods, many whites do not wish to be associated with a name that strongly links back to the black community. According to Herring and Amissah, most immigrants and newcomers to the United States adapt to the Anglo Saxon culture. Th is adaptation results in a consists of contacts, competition, accommodation and finally, assimilation (1998, 123). This process results in favored and unfavored status, with those failing or unable to adapt to the Anglo culture becoming regulated to the unfavorable position. Herring and Amissah, using information from the 1990 General Social Survey, found that that blacks, do not want to live in neighborhoods with black people and do not want black political leaders (1998, 142). Another subtle for m of racism is referred to as laissez faire racism. In this theory, but one marked by laissez faire racist ideology. Laissez faire racism is the persistent negativ e stereotyping of blacks, of blaming them for their economic situation and resistance to meaningful policy efforts that would eliminate racist social conditions in the United States (Bobo, Kluegel and Smith 1997, 16). Accordingly, the United States remain black condition as hyper
45 from whites and that there are serious conse quences to this segregation. Residential neighborhoods vary in services provided such as schools, utilities, safety and police protection and level of exposure to social conditions (such as crimes and environmental issues) (1997, 19). A street named for a black man, even a recognized civil rights icon, can threaten in the eyes of many whites property values, business opportunities and economic development. The interests of blacks again are only advanced when their interests do not conflict with socie tal concerns of middle and upper class whites, as Bell has expressed (1995, 22). Naming a street after King in their neighborhood does not fit into the interests of many whites. Despite the gains in knocking down Jim Crow laws and state sanctioned segrega tion, whites continue to enjoy a substantially greater share of economic, political and prestige resources than African Americans. Thus, laissez faire racism emerged to defend white privilege and social status. Arguments on Buffalo Avenue: Voices of Opp osition Hillsborough County and the City of Tampa held a joint public hearing on August 31, 1989 to hear public comment on the request to rename Buffalo Avenue after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The hearing was held a year and eight months after the City Council first voted to deny the request along portions of the roadway within the city limits. In Tampa and the surrounding county areas affected by the potential change, residents and property owners along Buffalo Avenue overwhelming opposed the street name change. Proponents for the change were mostly black residents and members of black orients organizations. Opponents offered alternatives to naming Buffalo Avenue after Martin Luther King Boulevard. Gordon Commee, a business owner on Buffalo
46 Chamber president in the rural Seffner Mango Dover Valrico areas east of Tampa, 15 Tampa resident Charles Springer argued about the potential costs to the citizens of Tampa and Hillsborough County. Springer lamented fiscal problems already hundreds of thous He also supplied a petition of 540 names of residents he said were opposed to the Buffalo Avenue name change. Additionally, he said that changing the street name 16 Buffalo Avenue did not want the ch ange, for whatever reasons, and many were not to try and take away the name. 17 Another resident, living in the rural county areas of Buffalo Avenue (also referred 18 Realtor Richard Bennett sai d he could afford the costs associated with the name change but the county and city could ost of $2
47 oing what the majority wanted. 19 Randy Pacheco said in two years of fighting the name change on Buffalo Avenue he had documentation of 1,600 signatures on petitions opposing the name change. He 20 Sylvia Espinola expressed concern over confusion and economic impact for the businesses located on Buffalo Avenue. Attorney Dale Swope argued that the opposition to the s treet naming governments to initiate any proposals to change the name of any street at the expense of taxpayers, County were following the rules and regulations regarding street naming and asked how the governments could instigate a name change without support of the property owners. 21 Mike Roberts, a Buffalo Avenue property owner, opposed the name change, he Others questioned how costs to residents may be mitigated while Bill Boenau said he and his wife drove 60 miles from Sarasota to suggest the City rename the Hillsborough red to help businesses with potential printing costs. Alphonso Brown, owner of a printing
48 he who needed his services. 22 Social Distance As comments from citizens at the joint City County public hearing indicate, many residents were willing to name other st reets, buildings or even a river after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. instead of a street that traveled in front of their property, home or business. Social distance from racial identity with African American culture seems to drive the debate between property owners against the street renaming and those who proposed the change. As Dr. Bell theorizes, when actions undertaken may enhance or improve social or economic standing for whites, they will conform to change such as occurred in the South durin g the end of segregation to the immersion of the Sunbelt. Actions that will impact white interests, however, will not be tolerated especially when they do not converge with white goals, interests or objectives. Opposition to a street named after Dr. King is a strong indicator of the principles behind critical race theory. 1 Landenberg, Le Tampa Tribune September 8, 1989 1B 2 Florida Sentinel Bulletin January 5, 1988 3 Harris, Rudolph, : Tampa Ci ty Council Decides King Street Naming Thursday Florida Sentinel Bulletin January 5, 1988 4B 4 United States Census 1990, Tampa and Hillsborough County, FL 5 Florida Sentinel Bulletin February 9, 1988 4B 6 Florida Sentinel Bulletin February 5, 1988 4B
49 7 Flo rida Sentinel Bulletin January 15, 1988 8 Tampa Tribune January 15, 1988 1B 9 Florida Sentinel Bulletin, February 2, 1988 4B 10 ira Florida Sentinel Bulletin February 9, 1988 4B 11 Tampa Tribune February 27, 2005 accessed online TBO.com, July 19, 2010 12 La Tampa Tribune September 8 1989 1B 13 Tampa Tribune January 15, 1988 accessed online TBOP.com, May 29, 2010 14 Ibid 15 Fi tzpatrick, Edna, deputy clerk, Minutes of the Hillsborough County/City of Tampa Public Hearing, August 31, 1989, page 424 16 Ibid 17 Ibid 18 Ibid, Maurice Reynolds, page 425 19 Fitzpatrick, Edna, deputy clerk, Minutes of the Hillsborough County/City of T ampa Public Hearing, August 31, 1989,page 425 20 Ibid, page 426 21 Ibid, page 426 22 Ibid, page 423
50 CHAPTER 4 PALMETTO : SYSTEMIC RACISM Recognizing King In 1990, Charles B. Smith became the first African American elected to the Palmetto City Council. The Manatee County community l ocated just north of Bradenton had a population of about 13% blacks and as in much of the South a legacy of segregation and isolation for African Americans. Smith represented Ward 1, a largely African American constituency that was ready for representation and inclusion in city affairs and having a voice in their government. Included on Councilman Smith's agenda were two issues of importance to the black community: establishing a city holiday for Martin Luther King Jr. and designating a street named after the late civil rights leader. By 1994, Smith had accomplished one goal, the City of Palmetto recognized Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on the third Monday of January, as does much of the nation. The street naming was more elusive but seemingly in sight and almost accomplished. After a year of debates before the City Council and two votes on the issue, Smith believed 17 th Street West was about to be renamed Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. What Councilman Smith did not expect was after a 4 1 vote t o further discuss the street naming on January 17, 1994 when he left town, that the other four members January 19 where his colleagues would vote to rescind the street renami ng, face charges of violating Florida's Sunshine Law and effectively scuttle the renaming of 17 th Street West.
51 Minutes and Debates The process to rename 17 th Street West from 8 th Avenue to 14 th Avenue began in early 1993. On January 18, 1993 Smith and his fellow council members voted unanimously for the street name change. Then confusion set in. Residents opposed to the name change appealed to Council, about 60 attending a meeting on February 1, 1993 and protesting the name change. Council still upheld the decision, this time by a 3 2 vote. 1 Further complicating the issue was the discovery that a portion of 17 th Street West was located outside the city limits, in the jurisdiction of Manatee County. Despite that snafu, African American residents continu ed to press for the street name while 2 ilding be named for King. The Rev. Willie 3 By the December 20, 1993 meeting, Councilman Smith was becoming increasingly frustrated in his efforts to ren ame the street after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Opponents, including fellow council members, were raising issue after issue to block the 4 Cries of opposition argued that the City of Pal metto did not have named streets. In countering that claim, decrease and Smith noted, real estate agents testified to that claim. A postal employee
52 also complained that the m Another issue raised in Palmetto that frequently is an issue in street namings in other communities was that the city did not follow its own ordinances. Palmetto had a Streets shall be assigned numbers in accordance with the approved city grid system. Streets may be assigned names where the street is designed in such a curvilinear fashion that it would be difficult to number due to its various directional changes upon the approval of the city clerk. Dual designations shall be prohibited. No names shall be assigned or approved which duplicate existing street names either actually or phonetically. 5 At the December 20 designed 17 th Street as Martin Luther King Jr. Drive was taken prior to and without the street designation o 6 But council members were getting nervous about the vote and the increasingly negative arguments about renaming 17 th Street West. Rev. Ivey urged the Council to move on with the street naming, erect new street signs and argued that due proces s and adequate notice had been provided to residents. 7 Councilman Smith also argued that enough time had passed and that adequate notice was provided to residents along 17 th 8 Residen ts also spoke to the issue. Guy Grimes suggested that part of the street be named for President John F. Kennedy and the other part for Dr. King. Jean said the naming of
53 9 accordance with our own ordinance and violated our own law, until such time as the residents on 17 th Street West be advised that a motion has been made to change the stre et name. 10 Street signs were never erected during 1993 because the City Council 11 Further, council members began digging in over the grid system and potential safety issues of changing declared. 12 Councilman Jim Biggins also supported preservation of the grid at a different meeting, stating 13 Sunshine Violation Allegations With the issue still unresolved, council members met on January 17, 1994 to again discuss the nam ing of 17 th Street West after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. colleagues to honor the decision a previous council made last year to rename 17 th Street West between Eight and 14 th Avenues after the slain civil rights leader. His motion died because the remaining four all white 14 Following a long and fruitless debate, Council voted four to one to hold a work session on the issue of street names in g eneral. Following discussion on other items and after
54 Councilman Smith left the meeting early, remaining members agreed to schedule the work session on Wednesday, January 19 at 8:30 a.m. According to the Bradenton Herald which few people knew about, including Smith, the other four council members voted unanimously to overturn the 1993 decision to rename a section of 17 th 15 The meeting, which was not recorded, was alleged by Smith and Rev. Ivey to be a violation in the Sunshine Laws. Smith filed a complaint with the Palmetto Police Department and charged that the mayor and three other white council 16 Further, he said proper notice was not provided that the meeting would be held and that official action can only be taken a meetings or special meetings and not at a work he Sunshine what type of notice is reasonable. However, according to Barry Richard, an attorney for can be made that there 17 In addition, city officials argued that the meeting called was a special meeting and not a work session, allowing council members to vote on issues. The Stat law when they meet at the morning meeting and unanimously overturned the naming of a portion of 17 th Street West after Dr. King. Unable to verify that the white council members and may Economou said civil violations would be charged against Mayor Dole and Council
55 members Jim Biggins, Shirley Grover Bryant, Brian Williams and Pat Whitesel. The infractions are punishable by fine of up to $500 against each individual. 18 Smith, who is routinely referenced in the Bradenton Herald signal change in City Hall, h 19 State Attorney: Law W as Broken City Council meeting minutes from the January 17 meeting when the special old a 20 Another issue that arose, however, is that Palmetto Council meetings are not recorded, and no audible tape exists from either meeting to verify action taken just written minutes are available. At that tim e, according 21 An attorney for the mayor and council denied any infraction of the Sunshine Law personally responsible for giving the 22 In fact, in most municipalities and counties, staff prepares the meeting agendas and provides notice to the press and public. A judge agreed and in June 1994, dismis sed the non criminal charges against about the second meeting was announced at the January 17 meeting, and other
56 of the next meeting. Since one reporter did attend the January 19 meeting, the judge ruled, some notice had been provided. While Sm he believes the process was worthwhile and would prevent such actions by the Council 23 Dick Shelton, se cretary of the First Amendment Foundation in Tallahassee and executive a meeti ng of interest to them. I think (Palmetto officials) failed significantly in follow the 24 Smith concurred with that philosophy. The issue of renaming 17 th Street was of great interest, especially to his constituents, Smith said. New Street Name? and four council members with violation of the Sunshine Law, 17 th Street West never was renamed to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The year long p rocess and following court case that ended in June 1994 deflated the effort to implement a new street name or even a dual name as suggested by Manatee County commissioners. According to Charles Smith, the street naming, protests and special meeting allega tions attracted national media coverage as well as efforts to find some other memorial to name after Dr. King, including city buildings and a city park. None were successful. Then owners of a new subdivision under construction in Palmetto stepped in and o r
57 mobile home park. The developers spoke with Smith prior to making the offer and he has spoken with were pleased with the offer but they were still interested in seeing 17 th Street West named for the slain civil rights leader as well. Other council members and ing process 25 No Easy Road As in many communities, the process to name a street after Dr. King often exposes other racial dynamics. In Palmetto, Councilman Smith notes tha t there has been a white power structure that for blacks is difficult to penetrate. Often times, the street naming is not an effort only to recognize Dr. King and his contributions to 2006, 220). As even the press reports of the Palmetto street naming process imply, in six out of 10 26 That a black man has been elected to City Council appears to be an accomplishment and perhaps, something of a surprise. It can reflect what al (power) disputes about who has authority to create, define, interpret and represent collective pasts King and the street naming process is so often linked to race an d racism, which blacks see as an attempt to exert some control over their space and community and share in the historical control whites have exhibited in the past. That is why when all white
58 councils or majority councils, such as in Palmetto, deny street namings, often based on flimsy reasoning, that race is a suspected reason. As Rev. Ivey said after one Palmetto 27 Another aspect of the street naming debate is the selection of a street o f some prominence and that meets a cross section of the population. For many blacks, streets a symbolic appeal. The intent is to allow streets to unite diverse neighb orhoods (2006, 226). The problem with this approach, however, is that many blacks live separately from whites. Plus, blacks are more likely to cross over into white areas of town than whites into black areas (Feagin 2000, 153). Despite the change in so cial behavior and lessening of residential barriers, about two thirds of the black population in the South remains segregated from white neighborhoods (2000, 154). This systemic approach to segregation in American society is indicative of how unconscious much of white process to draw in the white community and at the same time extend themselves into white areas, which often are the prime locations for residential and commercial development. Selection of a prominent street to be named for King will indicate how that community white and black views the slain civil rights leader (2006, 230). It can also indicate how that community deals with racial issues and reconciliation. Systemic Racism A primary principle of systemic racism, especially as espoused by Joe Feagin, 19). An important tenant of this theory is the fact that, according to Feag in, those who create and dominate the economic system also control and crafted the political system.
59 In the United States, the primary, dominant force in both economics and politics is the Eurocentric, white race. Systemic racism not only focuses on rac ial images, attitudes Racism and control over economic wealth and sociopolitical power ca n impact where one resides, what type of job or education is provided, whether a family has health care opment (2000, 26). Whites not only do not recognize the degree of their privileges but th ey do not realize that these privileges have been passed down from generation to generation. And the economy, politics and the law, education and the mass media was still run by and for whites, with the elit es making No Representation The numbers of elected black officials in the four cities selected for this dissertation is telling. In Zephyrhills there were no black officials, in Tampa just one, in Pensacola two out o f 10 and in Palmetto just one. That is not a unique problem. In many areas, black voters are unable to elect black representatives and when they are, they often are in the minority and unable to affect change or impact black neighborhoods or black intere sts (Feagin 2000, 144). Despite the advancement of blacks and improvements in racial relations in the United States, systemic racism is evident in the organizational power structure of many
60 local governments. In Palmetto, Charles Smith is the only Afric an American elected to the Palmetto City Council. His personal achievement and ability to speak out on the issues of importance to black constituents in his community is a step forward in recognizing the needs of the minority population and espousing thei r points of view. However, as only one vote out of five, the other four white members remain in control of the issues that come before the City Council and of the sociopolitical agenda of the commu nity. 1 Bradenton Herald March 3, 1993, B1 2 Ibid 3 Ibid 4 Telephone interview with Charles B Smith, November 20, 2010 5 Palmetto City Codes, Chapter 25, Streets, Sidewalks and Other Public Places, Article II, Section 25 35, Municode.com 6 Stearns, Linda, city clerk, City Council minutes, December 20, 1993, City of Palmetto, page 3 7 Ibid 8 Ibid 9 Stearns, Linda, city clerk, City Council minutes, December 20, 1993, City of Palmetto, page 4 10 Ibid 11 Bradenton Herald January 18, 1994, B1 12 Ibid 13 Bradenton Herald January 28, 1994, B1 14 Ibid 15 Bradenton Herald February 21, 1994, B1 16 Bradenton Herald January 22, 1994, B1 17 Ibid
61 18 Bradenton Herald February 26, 1994, A1 19 Ibid 20 Ibid 21 Bradenton Herald February 21, 1994, B1 22 G Bradenton Herald April 22, 1994, B1 23 Bradenton Herald June 23, 1994, F1 24 Ibid 25 B radenton Herald March 31, 1994, A1 26 Atamian, Kim Bradenton Herald Tribune 1994 27 Bradenton Herald January 18, 1994, B1
62 CHAPTER 5 ZEPHYRHILLS : MUNICIPAL EXCLUSION Silent No More On April 29, 2004 at the intersection of 7 th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in downtown Zephyrhills, dozens of protesters marched back and forth across ices after the Zephyrhills City Council voted April 26 to reverse an earlier vote t hat changed the name of Sixth Avenue to Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in this small west central Florida town. The protests would continue for days, bringing in national press and coverage. The demonstrators ranged from 13 year Nicholas Graham, a white Zephyrhills middle school student to Irene Dobson, a longtime African American resident who first suggested the name change the previous October and would turn 80 during the protests. The diversity and ardor of the protestors however would not stop City Council from changing the name back to Sixth Avenue at their next meeting. For Zephyrhills, an attempt to unite white and black residents instead unearthed divisions within the community that city leaders and residents did not realize existed. Zephyrhi lls would soon learn that while many of the Martin Luther King Jr. streets are different, in many instances, their stories are similar. The Idea of a Street Change In Zephyrhills, Sixth Avenue is a thin ribbon of asphalt two lanes wide and a few miles long It traverses across the width of the Zephyrhills, a small city best known for
63 its pure water and as a haven for northern retirees. In the east, the avenue stretches past pasture lands and runways of the municipal airport, through a small Africa America n community snuggled alongside the railroad tracks and westward into predominately white city neighborhoods lined with block houses and fruit trees in the yard. In 2003, Sixth Avenue was a mostly quiet street in a relatively quiet town of 12,000 residents. Yet tensions arose and tempers flared in October 2003 when a request was brought forward to City Council to rename Sixth Avenue after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Inspired by the celebration of the 40 th then 79 year old Irene Dobson passed a letter around her neighborhood seeking support from the mostly African American residents for the street renaming change. At the next city council meeting, the name change proposal was endorsed with little discussion and no animosity. 1 Staff was directed to investigate the mechanics of the renaming process. This effort, however, had just begun. In Zephyrhills, existing demographics would appear to doom the street naming from the start. In the 2000 census, 2.8 % of American, compared to 92.6 % were white, and in fact, no black had ever been elected to office in Zephyrhills. Local dailies such as the Tampa Tribune and St. Petersburg Times and the weekly Zephyrhills News covered the event. Later, coverage would attract the national news media, including the New York Times CBS and ABC and television coverage from the Tampa market. No predominately African American pre ss covered the Zephyrhills story.
64 How Sixth Avenue Was Selected Today Sixth Avenue is a paved road that connects to the east with a county bypass road. As recently as the late 1990s, however, Sixth Avenue east of the railroad tracks was a dead end dirt roa d that extended past a half dozen smaller dirt lanes in the available to blacks. T he new subdivision was a half mile northeast of existing black citrus and ranch family that owned much of the land in the area. The black families ters historically worked in the Krusen citrus groves and family owned lumberyard and shopped at the company owned commissary that accepted ercules Powder Company land in north Zephyrhills, where her husband Robert was employed as a laborer for the powder company since the early 1950s. The Dobsons moved to the Hercules Powder Company land from southeast Georgia, Mr. Dobson first arrived in 19 50 or so in search of work, and then later, Irene joined him. Hercules Powder Company operated in Zephyrhills for nearly 20 years, from 1946 to 1962. Laborers harvested pine stumps that were sent to Brunswick, Ga. and processed for resin and pine oil. C amp 39, as the Zephyrhills plant was known, was located on 80 acres on the north side of Zephyrhills (Wise 2010, 86). Outside the city limits, Camp 39 included cabins on the property where the workers and their families resided. When the powder company c losed its doors in 1962, the families living there were moved off the land, over to Sixth Avenue.
65 This time period encapsulated the height of segregation during the 1950s and early 1960s. Hercules Powder Company had work camps across the South and import ed black laborers from poorer areas who were seeking work. When the camps closed, workers had to find housing as well as new employment. As the camps were closing, the steel grip of segregation began to ease, at least in the public arena. Housing condit ions did not change in Zephyrhills, both the Otis Moody subdivision and time in a predominately white school in Zephyrhills, leaving behind the all black elementary school she attended previously in Dade City. By 2003, Irene Dobson had resided in the Sixth Avenue area for 40 years. While her husband worked as a laborer at the He rcules Powder Company, and later at other businesses, she served as a domestic in the homes of some of Zephyrhills most prominent families, including one of the first doctors to come to Zephyrhills and wealthy farmers and ranchers. When she began the camp aign for the street naming, she selected Sixth Avenue for two reasons: first its historical significance as the gateway to the black community and secondly, because it ran through town, from one end to the other, from the heart of the black community into the predominately white neighborhoods. The entire street, she envisioned, would bear the name of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., recognizing his universal accomplishments. 2 Thus, in Zephyrhills, as in many communities, it was important to black residents that all of Sixth Avenue be named after the fallen civil rights leader. The idea of
66 was suggested during the MLK street name change in Tallahassee ( Tallahassee Democr at p 1A, January 17, 1999 as quoted in Alderman, 2000, 675) would be viewed as a hollow and empty gesture. In a community such as Zephyrhills that has been residents, the duality of a street name could only serve to reinforce the segregated living conditions long sanctioned by Zephyrhills and other communities in the American South. Crossing cultural boundaries is symbolic of change and how Americans have come together since the civil rights movement. King supporter during the Tallahassee renaming process (Alde rman 2000, 675). As Americans are often concerned about the location of the named street in relation to the white community and the extent 003, 166). It was against this backdrop that black residents in Zephyrhills were heartened by the warm reception of City Council and tentative approval of the proposed street name change. But once property owners along Sixth Avenue were notified of the p roposed name change, the next Council meeting was standing room only and contentious, filled with white residents opposed to the idea and openly hostile to Council. Despite the anger of the white residents, the street name change was approved. Council mem bers originally voted four to one to change the name; the final vote tally was 3 2, still with a slim majority.
67 But what was the cost? White residents felt betrayed, torpedoed by what they called a callous Council, who they claimed rushed the issue and ign ored the wishes of support, were distressed by the reactions of white residents. The Zephyrhills Experience What appeared to be the final vote on the Zephyrhills street nam ing was held November 10, 2003. Despite the protests from white residents and threats of recall elections, the issue died down. The City attempted to mollify some residents of Sixth Avenue who complained of the costs associated with the street name chang e and reimbursed a total of $145.13 for the costs of changing the address on their Florida 3 Then in February 2004, during qualifying for the next city election, two candidates stepped forward to challenge incumb ent council members who had voted for the Martin Luther King Jr. name change. They vowed to overturn the street naming and return the name back to Sixth Avenue. The candidates, Arjay Morgan and Gina King, challenged incumbents Elizabeth Geiger and Lance Smith. Following the April election, Geiger held onto her seat by one vote and Smith was defeated by King, 510 votes to 425 4 With the elective majority shift at the next Council meeting, Gina King moved that the street name be rescinded and Martin Lut her King Jr. Avenue be renamed Sixth Avenue, name of the street and right of way currently known as Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue to its original name of Sixth Avenue th us preserving the historic numeric grid system 5 Her motion passed three to two. But several Council members had met with black community leaders, Irene Dobson among them,
68 and negotiated a compromise: honorary signage recognizing Dr. King would remain on the street posts, and both names would adorn street signs. A motion by Geiger to that effect passed, four to one, with Gina King opposed. In the interim leading up to the Council vote, about 100 mostly African Americ an residents began a protest at City Hall. Discouraged by the April 26, 2004 Council motion to revert the street name to Sixth Avenue and running up to the May 10 meeting mostly black protesters picketed City Hall. Irene Dobson celebrated her 80 th birthda y in the City Hall parking lot with prayer and cake and her fellow protesters honoring the milestone. In just days, the city received over 50 emails and letters, with a majority from whites protesting the street name, and several from white supremacist gr oups urging Council to remain strong and not to back down in the face of the protests. Many comments were from out of state and other parts of Florida as well as local Zephyrhills residents and others in Pasco County. The letters and emails contained comments and messages ranging from the to rename an established street after MLK and commend you and encourage you. Perhaps if our ancestors were to do it over again, 6 Other letters expressed dismay at the prospect of reverting to the original name and embarrassment for Zephyrhills and those living in the town. Those emails
69 urged caution and expressed support for the street naming process. African American courageous stand. It took much more intestinal fortitude than many would have thought us proud. Make our constituents proud. There are times in our life when we are given the challenge to do the right thing. This is 7 Finding Solutions President Clinton attempted to bridge the racial divide by forming initiatives to open dialogue between the races. On a national scale, that can be challenging and outcomes difficult to ascertain. In Zephyrhills, city officials formed a community initiative to open dialogues and explore the schisms that appeared in the wake of the naming o f Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue. In the late winter of 2004 students in the Master of Public Administration program at the University of South Florida conducted a th Avenue to Martin Luther King Avenue. Do you support street renaming? Of 255 respondents, 188 or 74% said they did not support the street naming while 66 or 26% said yes, they did support it. 8 This created a discord difficult to breach in an initiative setting The issue, however, facing those on the initiative is simple: how do you begin to build a bridge to close those gaps and heal those wounds? And perceptions aside, are Americans particularly white Americans really ready to accept racial equality?
70 As the street renaming in Zephyrhills and other communities has shown, many whites, at least in the abstract, are free of discrimination or prejudicial beliefs as long as those ppose renaming Sixth Avenue from the railroad tracks east as that area is predominately black. No one complained in the past when city officials worked with predominately black county residents to get streets paved in their neighborhood, streetlights i nstalled and water and sewer lines extended to county residents outside the city limits. 9 But when a black woman who lived outside the city limits requested the street name and demanded that it carry the length of the street, residents objected. Resident s voiced fears that the association with a black civic leader will diminish their neighborhoods and devalue their properties. In Keysville, Ga., city leaders experienced the same reaction American leade rs found little opposition when they renamed a street for King within the city limits of Keysville. However, they encountered intense resistance when they sought to have the road Keysville is 75% black, the county is 50% white (2003, 166). Another common approach against the street renaming was to criticize the way the renaming is handled. In Zephyrhills, an ordinance defining street renaming procedures was passed in 1987 and was forgotten by city leaders during the street naming process. Despite complaints about the ordinance, the city attorney found that City Council followed proper procedures during the street naming process. That also is a similar complaint in other communitie s and one used in Eugene, Ore. when residents
71 The Register Guard June 11, 2003). At one of the Council hearings in Zephyrhills, the Rev. Eddie Nunn Sr., pastor of the Macedonia Missionary Bapti st Church, a black church located just north of the Otis Moody community, held up his eyeglasses while speaking in support of the Martin Luther King Jr. street naming and directing his attention and comments in the racially and through the eyes of black residents. Zephyrhills needs to change, Nunn contributions that Martin Luther King Jr. made cost of a street name change is minimal compared to the life the Rev. King gave to the cause, Nunn said. 10 Rev. Nunn, it turns out, was the only minister or civic leader to speak in support of the street name chan ge in Zephyrhills during the debate. Municipal Exclusion and Underbounding exclusion and segregation and how those vestiges of the old South continue to impact ieties. In 1962, African Americans were extremely limited in their ability to live within the city limits of Zephyrhills. In the black communities, black residents did not have access to city water or sewer, fire hydrants, paved roads or street lights. They supported local businesses by shopping in town, but did not have a right to vote within the municipality. Forty years later many of those issues are resolved. Between Pasco County and the City of Zephyrhills most but not all of the roads are paved Blacks living east of the railroad tracks and off of Sixth Avenue within the city limits live on paved roads with city utilities, street lights and voting rights. Blacks in the
72 unincorporated area have access to city water, some paved roads and some st reet lights, but without annexation into the city, no vote in city government. In 2004, after 40 years living in the Sixth Avenue area and more than 50 years in Zephyrhills, Irene Dobson, who resides about a half mile from the city limits, discovered she remained an outsider. The development of the black residential area in Zephyrhills patterns of rural black immigrants during the 1960s and 1970s resulted in high concent rations of blacks located outside the borders of towns as well as segregated 11 American neighborhoods are kept just outside of a undaries, resulting in lower levels of services, reduced access to infrastructure American communities are routinely excluded from local governmen t actions by administrative decisions made by elected and appointed officials based on 12 A primary complaint of city residents opposed to the street renaming was that Irene Dobson lived outside the city limi ts. So too did many of her African American neighbors. In fact, one argument Councilwoman Gina King used in opposing the Martin 13 Co uncilman Lance Smith suggested that his support of the renaming of Sixth Avenue was based on the merits of the request and his was my feeling that they were community 14
73 It is possible to explain away the historical aspects of political and municipal exclusion and the impact on minority communities, but the continued existence of these 15 The process of annexation of unincorporated properties is another aspect of the or the lack of annexation can be a tool used by municipal leaders to exclude disadvantaged or low income population s, including minorities, from voting in local elections and from receiving public utilities and other community services (Lichter, Parisi, Grice and Taquino 2007, 47). The authors define selective annexation and racial exclusi on from The fact that Irene Dobson, or her neighbors, were restricted in wher e they could live, even in an historical context, was never part of the street naming decision. For white residents, it was simply enough that most of the supporters of the street name change were not residents of the city and therefore had no voice or vo te. In the Lichter article, the authors conclude that incidents of racial exclusion are continuing after effects of the practice linger throughout the South, yet there are remedies to past injustices. In Zephyrhills, city officials extended city water to the Otis Moody subdivision in the late 1980s and in 1998 assisted residents in seeking a federal grant through Pasco County to pave dirt roads. A newspaper headline heralding that
74 16 After the 2004 street naming issue, city planning officials m et with residents east of the railroad tracks and within the Otis Moody subdivision to discuss the idea of annexation. Residents declined the offer. Remnants Remain Forty years after the fall of segregation, its remnants remain. Denying parity and resi dential equality in the 1950s and 1960s carried through to the next century. Racial Americans by nell (2004). During the fight for the name change in 2004, Irene Dobson found she was fighting for more than the recognition for a national hero on a street sign. She was still fighting for recognition of her co existence as a resident of Zephyrhills for the past 50 years. The Zephyrhills experience provides insight into the ability of actions taken decades in the past during the days of the Jim Crow South to continue to haunt communities and more importantly, people as remnants of municipal exclusi on and segregation remain a factor in the black community today. 1 St. Petersburg Times October 14, 2003, PC 1 2 Interview with Irene Dobson, March 20, 2010, Zephyrhills, Florida 3 Moorhead, Moll St. Petersburg Times April 26, 2004, PC 1 4 Boan, Linda, city clerk, Acceptance of Canvassing, City Council meeting, April 19, 2004 5 6 Emails and letters, April 29, 2004 to May 5, 2004 addressed to City Council, City of Zephyrhills 7 Ibid 8 2004 City of Zephyrhills Citizen Satisfaction Survey, USF MPA Program, April 2004 9 St. Petersburg Times July 22, 1998, editorial, PC 2
75 10 Nunn, Eddie, Reverend, Presentation to City Council, April 12, 2004 11 Grove Institute f or Sustainable Communities. 12 Ibid 13 Tampa Tribune April 30, 2004, Pasco 1 14 Interview with Lance Smith, Zephyrhills, Florida, April 23, 2010 (Smith was re elected in 2009) 15 UNC Cen ter for Civil Rights, 2006, page 1 16 St. Petersburg Times July 22, 1998, editorial, PC 2
76 CHAPTER 6 PENSACOLA : MINORITY REPRESENTATION Movement for Change A sign hangs above the door to the office of Movement for Change in Pensacola, a block off Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only 1 Movement for Change grew in 1997 from the effort to rename a street in Pensacola after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to an organization today that promotes voter registration, legal defense fund, educational opportunities, racial equity and environmental justice for the black community in Pensacola and Escambia County. Movement for Chang e began as the grassroots organization Progressive Alliance Community Equity Resources and Strategies. The idea, in addition to naming a street after Dr. King, was to obtain equal footing for Pensacola's black community, a minority population long accusto med to having little or no political representation in community, educational or political decisions. In the 2000 census, Pensacola's population was 55,347 residents, with 30 % black and 65 % white. In the first Congressional district of Florida, of whic h Pensacola is a part, the district stretches from the Alabama state line in the west to just outside of Tallahassee nearly 200 miles to the east, and comprises almost 500,000 residents with whites outnumbering blacks 78 % to 14.5 % The first Congression al district has never had a black representative, Escambia County elected its first black commissioner since Reconstruction in 1983 2 and the 10 member (with one mayor) Pensacola City Council had two black members and eight white members during the street n aming debates.
77 African American members were Marie Young, first elected in 1997 and now an Escambia County commissioner and Rita E. Jones, first elected in 1995. 3 Politically, it was difficult to find representation that constituted a relationship betwee n black citizens and their elected officials. In such a racially lopsided district and community, the question of interests arises when elected officials are unable to relate to the needs and desires of their constituents (Swain 1995, 5 6). As has b een established, the issue that complicates a street naming in a community is when the street name will cross into white neighborhoods is a lack of understanding of white politicians and residents with the importance of the issue to black residents (Alderm an 2003, 116). Swain suggests the importance of the need of African Americans to feel their contributions as a group are valued by society in general. In majority (1995, 6). Further, interests between elected officials and their elaborates that whenever an individual or group defines an issue or concern as an rest becomes to an extent legitimatized as a worthwhile pursuit 1997 Pensacola, the interest that became legitimized in the minority population could not get a fair h earing before the white majority establishment. Movement for Change became that small group of people, trying to impact their community and their first objective was to rename either Palafox or Alcaniz Streets to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. When the ir leaders contacted City Hall, the fight for change began. In a white dominated society, the battle would be an uphill fight.
78 Kathleen Blee, in Spaces of Hate notes that in such white dominated societies and invisibility translates to culture and the embrace of cultural icons. Whiteness is viewed as the normative behavior and black icons or black history are foreign to the dominant race. (Blee 2004, 50 51) A secondary consideration is the political aspect According to Blee, political agendas that favor whites especially middle class whites y nonracial, such as quality schools, populations are rarely aware of the racial politics t they aware of other cultural aspects that represent minority populations. And street naming proposals are seen, often through the eyes of the white population, as something that may impact property values or even nei ghborhood safety in a negative manner. In a community with a small minority population, such as Pensacola, blacks are faced with two primary issues in having a say when attempting to influence the renaming of a street in a black or white neighborhood aft er a prominent African American. First they often have difficulty getting a hearing sometimes referred to as a seat at the table and second they must gain the respect of the white community of African American historical figures and icons and perhaps more importantly of the minority point of view.
79 The Pensacola Experience The man behind Movement for Change was LeRoy Boyd, a native of Pensacola and a retired employee of the aviation depot. Ultimately, the street naming process would include t he consideration of naming four streets, including Palafox, Alcaniz, Main years, endure countless City Council votes and consume enough newsprint to fill a binder an inch thick. Boyd would face accusations of rigidness, uncooperativeness and an unwillingness to compromise. On the other hand, he along with his supporters, who number around 300, charged city officials with racism and an inability to see or appreciate t he black perspective. Further, Boyd would challenge the racial structure of change the name of the street to be reflective of the entire community? Why is it we only u the name change from Palafox to Martin Luther King Jr. 4 Joe Davis, a supporter and active member of Movement for Change, is a Pensacola native and Vietnam veteran who was involved with the first attempts at a name change. Movement for Change first proposed Palafox Street to be named for Dr. King. Council members, voting along color lines, denied the request, with white council members arguing that residents and busine ss owners objected. The Pensacola News Journal would be inconvenient and costly even though they may have to reprint stationery and business cards soon because of a proposed change i 5 When Palafox was proposed, city officials countered with the suggestion to rename Main Street after Dr. King. Movement for Change members objected to that
80 name due to its isolation in the black community and the fact that a se wer plant was 6 Opposition was community wide, Davis said. The white opp onents sought to keep the name change on a street that only impacted the black community. 7 When Movement for Change leaders approached the City of Pensacola in January 1997, seeking to rename Palafox Street to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, the City Cou ncil instead voted 9 1 to never rename Palafox Street. According to the Pensacola News Journal 8 many objected to the name change because it would, Palafox to reprint stat members had different concerns, including Councilman Doug Halford who said there naming. 9 Council members 10 not reflect the entire commun 11 Multiple Votes In all, Pensacola city council members voted on the Martin Luther King Jr. street naming issue 17 times, including five votes in one meeting and one vote that pledged to never rename P alafox and another vote that simply agreed that a street would be renamed after Dr. King. Virtually every street naming vote fell along racial lines, with the eight white council members voting against a street naming and the two black members voting for a street name change. One vote was unanimous, in March 1999, when the
81 council went on record to rename a street, and directed city staff and the city manager to work with Movement for Change and the public to recommend a process to resolve the issue. Two votes were held to just to schedule a public hearing, one which passed unanimously in 1999 to hold a public hearing on the debate and a second in 1998 was approved 8 2 to hold a public hearing to consider changing A Street or a portion of Alcaniz. That vote was along racial lines, with the black members opposed to those streets for consideration. During a 3 hour meeting on January 15, 1998 on what th birthday City Council members held five votes, unable to agree on a str eet name change and defeating motions to name a street all five times. According to the News Journal statement Thursday night: it cannot and will not agree on renaming a street for Dr. 12 Change i n Tactics 13 Despite their minority status Movement for Change members decided it was time to show how valu able and integral African Americans were to the Pensacola and Escambia County community at large. In February, 1998, a group of black activists announced it was planning an economic boycott that would target 250 stores in the Pensacola area. As the News J ournal the 14
82 15 Further, he announced, if the boycott was not successful, a drive to mobilize the vote would be Pensacola social worker. 16 Man y businesses targeted by the boycott were taken by surprise. Others, including a local bank, were on the list due to their affiliation with a city council member. Council member Jack Nobles, for example was also the president of Horizon Bank. 17 As proof o white council was more accommodating to white residents fighting a cell tower locating can we cont ranging from a lack of support for a King street renaming to hiring and promoting blacks within th eir businesses. 18 By March, the boycott had seen some positive results. Chamber of Commerce members took up the cause of the street naming, and on March 11, 1999, the City Council voted unanimously of their intention to name a street after King. The city manager also recommended that a committee be formed to assist in the process. To emphasize the disparity in treatment, Movement for Change members also requested the city provide records indicating the number of street name changes that were made in the past 20 years and how they were handled and resolved. They argued that
83 consensus issues were not part of those street name changes. City records revealed that five streets had been renamed in the past 15 years with little or no discourse. 19 Other support materialized as well. In a March 23, 1998 editorial, the News Journal unable to understand how important the matter has become to so many in the black 20 Representatives of the Northwest Florida Coalition of Human Rights and Dignity, which represents civil rights groups and the NAACP, also weighed in on the street naming controversy. president. 21 The economic boycott serv ed to broaden the network of voices speaking on behalf of the street name change. Voices of Opposition Remain Despite the fact that activists for the street naming continued to press for a portion of Alcaniz to be renamed after Martin Luther King Jr. and supporters went door to door to collect more than 3,000 signatures of residents supporting the change, opposition remained. 22 One complaint from City Council members concerned the apparent lack of unity within the black community for which street to name i n honor of Dr. King. While black leaders agreed there was some confusion over which street to select, the majority said collecting 3,000 signatures signaled a united front. There also was concern that changing a street sign would not be a significant act to enhance life in
84 got social problems with our children. For the community to be focu sing on a street, I better. But let me take that to the bank. Let me tell those kids in my athletic program that alk up and down Martin 23 Yet Boyd countered those types of arguments with his own logic. A street should be named after King because he is a hero and Americans should follow his principles of peace and non violenc e, Boyd argued. Boyd and the members of Movement for Change share a larger goal of turning the street potential and become totally involved News Journal in 1998. The city has not embraced minorities or their culture, Boyd Like it is now, this town is jus t another chapter in the history of America where blacks 24 Dragging out the process to rename a street only delays the issues of equality, delayed is justi 25 But for many whites, the action was taking place too quickly and encroaching on their rights. As the debate narrowed it focus onto changing a portion of Alcaniz Street after Dr. King, the opposition also narrowed to residents on those porti ons and to opponents on City Council. Butch Haynes, owner of Haynes Van all of my paperwork and notifying our thousands of customers around the world is an
85 approximately one hundred street signs is not the way I would like to see my tax dollars 26 Another resident, Teresa Hargrove, objected to the label that anyone opposed to the King str eet naming was tagged a racist. 27 Melanie Nichols stated her objections to changing Alcaniz Street in deference to Spanish history and heritage during a year that Pensacola was noting its 300 th anniversary of its original settlement. Still others believ ed that a two block plaza on Palafox in downtown Pensacola named after the slain civil rights leader is a significant recognition that should belie the charges of racism over the street naming. 28 But others, like Boyd who were involved in the development of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Plaza, know the plaza was a start as a more fitting tribute to his life work. 29 Alcaniz Street has a strong record of black history as well as Spanish history, Boyd claimed, including serving as the location of the school run by the mother of the first African American four star general, Chappie James. 30 Compromise and Change The city council election in the spring of 1999 helped alter the street naming deadlock. Two new black council members replaced two white members, bringing the racial balance from eight whites and two blacks to six whites and four blacks. While not altering the total racial composition that could lead to a change in voting on the street naming issue, the News Journal 31 As the council was voting for their mayor and mayor pro tem positions, long time African American member Marie Young broke with the other black members and voted
86 for Mayor John Fogg to be reappointed and Council member Jack Nobles to be mayor pro tem. In turn, Mayor Fogg appointed two black council members to chair committees. 32 The newly formed Council and a new city manager attempted to find compromise and relief for the street naming debacle. City Manager Tom Bonfield sought a mediation route through the Florida Conflict Resolution Consortium. Movement for Change members shot that down. Then Councilman Joh n Panyko suggested a dual street naming for Alcaniz Street. That idea also failed. Then on June 24, 1999, in what the News Journal Owen Eubanks, both white members, voted with the four black members to renaming Alcaniz Street from Cervantes Street to Texar Street for the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. 33 member Doris Hayes. 34 Panyko said the issue had divided Pensac ola for too long and was creating racial tensions that brought into question whether council members cared for the future of the city. The issue that consistently had been denied by an eight to two vote for two and a half years passed six to three, with on e member absent. Councilman somewhat offensive that there seemed to be an overwhelming sentiment that this council was going to vote on issues 6 4 based on race. It was t ime to send a message, 35 The city set the date to begin erecting the new signs as of August 1, 1999.
87 Alcaniz and King Revisited In Oct ober, 2008, eleven years after the first push to name a street in Pensacola after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Movement for Change again resurrected the issue. LeRoy Boyd petitioned the Pensacola City Council to extend the name of Martin Luther King Jr. Dr ive north to the I 10, Exit 4 interchange and further south to Bayfront Parkway. Immediately, a number of the same arguments from the late 1990s arose: according to Boyd, and opponents continued their argument that Alcaniz is a historic 36 Following the city's action 11 years previous, Escambia County Commissioners renamed all portions of Alcaniz Street located outside the city limits to Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Despite the protests, the City Council agreed to forward the request to a city committee hearing in November 2008. The city conducted a survey of most of 93 private properties along the street, most of wh om opposed the street name change, according to City Manager Al Coby. 37 Then abruptly, Boyd called off the request in January 2009. Justice Two events occurred during the Pensacola street naming process that helped to sway city council members and r esult in a compromised street named after Dr. King. Both issues relate to the struggles minority populations are faced with when dealing with majority rule. First was the idea to begin an economic boycott of businesses in the Pensacola area. Despite the fact that many of these businesses did not have a role in the street naming process, their inclusion in the struggle and the recognition of the buying power of the minority residents enabled Movement for Change leaders to attract
88 notice and then assistanc e from economic leaders, such as the Chamber of Commerce, to bring others into the discussion helped to broaden support and legitimacy to the street naming battle. The boycott, while different in scope from other successful boycotts the Montgomery, Alab ama, bus boycott is probably the best known provided a similar outcome for minority residents. Secondly, by 1999, two more blacks were elected to city council, bringing a more diverse representation to the council and strengthening the minority viewpoin t. Two initial responses to the 1999 street renaming was the attitude as quoted by Councilman Pankyo, who was the first white councilmember willing to compromise: he sai idea of a street name change is a problem 38 1 Quoted in And I Quote : The Definitive Collection of Quotes, Sayings, and Jokes for the C ontemporary Speechmaker (1992), edited by Ashton Applewhite, Tripp Evans, and Andrew Frothingham 2 Independent News Vol. 4, No. 45, November 18, 2004, www.pensapedia.com access ed November 10, 2010 3 Burke, Erika, city clerk, City of Pensacola, elected officials, November 29, 2010 4 Pensacola News Journal January 15, 1997 1A 5 Ibid 6 Interview with Joe Davis, Movement for Change, Ju ne 25, 2010, Pensacola, F lorida 7 Ibid 8 Pensacola News Journal January 14, 1997, 1A
89 9 Pensacola News Journal October 7, 1997, 1A 10 Pensacola News Journal January 14, 1997, 1A 11 editorial, Pensacola News Journal October 6, 1997, 1C 12 Pensacola News Journal January 16, 1998, 1A 13 Rhue, Li Pensacola News Journal January 17, 1998, 1C 14 Pensacola News Journal February 12, 1998 1C 15 Ibid 16 Ibid 17 Scandlen, Moni Pensacola News Journal February 13, 1998 18 Pensacola News Journal February 12, 1998 1C 19 Pensacola News Journal January 15, 1998 20 Pensacola News Journal March 23, 1998 21 Pensacola News Journal February 15, 1998 22 Graybiel, Gi Pensacola News Journal January 15, 1998 23 Ibid 24 Pensacola News Journal February 16, 1998 25 Pensacola News J ournal May 12, 1998, 1C 26 Pensacola News Journal June 18, 1998, 1A 27 Ibid 28 Pensacola News Journal October 6, 1997, 6A 29 W Pensacola News Journal June 1 4, 1998, 23A 30 Ibid 31 Pensacola News Journal June 15, 1999, 1 C 32 Pensacola News Journal June 16, 1999, 4C
90 33 Texar, Pensacola News Journal, June 25, 1999 34 Pensacola News Journal June 25, 1999, 1A 35 Pensacola News Journal June 26, 1999 36 Pensacola N ews Journal October 21, 2008, 1C 37 Pensacola News Journal January 15, 2009, 4B
91 CHAPTER 7 CONCLUSION AND FINDINGS Overt Racism All the streets are different, but in many instances, the stories are similar. Four distinct communities in Florida, thre e in the Tampa Bay area and the fourth in the western Florida Panhandle, all with minority black populations. All four had African American residents seek at one time or another to rename of major thoroughfare in their community after the Rev. Dr. Martin L uther King Jr. While racial patterns in each city differed, many of the goals were the same: name a street for King, expand black culture into the greater community and begin to participate more fully in the day to day life of their hometowns. This chapt er will explain those efforts and provide the results of the hypotheses established in the Introduction The first hypothesis seeks to discover: because overt expressions of racism are no longer acceptable in American society, how is racism exhibited or hi dden in politics? Numerous scholars agree that overt racism in American society is a thing of the past. Still others recognize that racism has been a long standing cleavage in both cultural discourse and political life that has cast a long shadow on Amer ican democracy and principles (Carmines and Stimson 1989, Key 1949, Knuckey and Orey 2000, Sigelman 1997). The days of blatant bigotry and outright discrimination and segregation, particularly in the South, are historic relics that live on only in histor y books and the memories of older Americans, both black and white. The disappearance of these overt types of racism is not indicative that racism does not exist. In their study of the 2008 presidential election in Florida, Martinez and Craig (2010) find that while many Floridians expressed pride that a black man was a
92 candidate for president, in instances where they may be personally impacted, survey 11). In fact, Martinez and Craig note that measuring racial attitudes black attitude s behind what they know to be more socially accepted answers to direct In an earlier study, Kuklinski and Cobb posed similar questions to survey respondents by asking questions regarding affirmative action or how one wou ld feel about a black family moving next door. These types of questions are added to other, into an equation. Kuklinski and Cobb found that the list experiment is us eful in dealing black attitudes and also recognizes contemporary Covert Reasoning These findings are useful in looking at attitudes on Martin Luther King Jr. street namings as well. In all four com munities presented in this dissertation, those against the street name change when it impacted white neighborhoods and business districts used similar types of arguments and language when opposing the change. In city after city, at podium after podium, an d from opposing city council members as well, the arguments seldom varied. Very few opponents overtly spoke ill of Dr. King. Most expressed concern about costs of the street naming, be it for personal stationery and checking account changes, or cost of r eplacing street signs, to confusion for drivers
93 as found in Palmetto and Zephyrhills. Some worried about mail delivery, yet others worried about property values and economic viability of their neighborhood. In Pensacola, the historic nature of the street considered for renaming was a concern. As has been noted in several communities King was attacked for his reputation as a womanizer, someone with Communist leanings and for his anti war stance. Thus, economic impact on their business or property if aligned or associated with him (Alderman 2000, 673). ss is expressed in the opposition, according to Jonathan Tilove in his study of Martin Luther King Jr. streets across the country, always some folks devoted to the history and significance of the old name. But in the scores of skirmishes one also catches a glimpse or an eyeful of deeper white resistance and, in the intensity of the reaction, a bracing reminder of the real King, the man with edge and meaning, and not si mply the dreamy King of grammar school coloring contests (2002, 16). Another commonality in virtually every community is that residents suggest naming something else after King. In Tampa, one resident even suggested renaming the Hillsborough River after King. In Zephyrhills and Pensacola, libraries, bridges and community or civic centers were suggested. In Palmetto, the city All of these suggestions are appropriate and legi timate ways to recognize a noted civil rights leader. But hidden behind many of them are attempts to camouflage racism or fear of black culture. It allows recognition without it impacting the personal
94 space of the residents or business owners living or w orking on a street named after King. Perhaps more telling and worth repeating is a comment from a Zephyrhills resident on the status of King in the white community as compared to King in the black Are those complaints and comments legitimate responses to naming a street after King or a symptom of deeper resentments? Why is it that whites do not respect on in the United States? It becomes difficult to ascertain if they are deliberate acts of racism or something more innocuous. Listening to those comments make it easy to suspect, but nearly impossible to prove, that race is the underlying issue. 1 White R esistance In much of the literature reviews for this dissertation, several themes reoccur. First, as Kuklinski notes, one finding that resonates with white survey respondents is the l 1997, 415) that leads to white resentment. In his article, it is affirmative action. In other instances it may be busing. Street naming is a perfect example of this push for equality and King, citing resentment on those who are trying to honor the civil rights leader. In Palmetto, Pensacola and Zephyrhills the leaders of the drives to rename a street after King, Charles Smith, LeRoy Boyd and Irene Dobson, respectful ly, were all criticized in their communities for their efforts and tenacity in the street naming process. In
95 Zephyrhills, city council members were vilified as well for pushing through the name change and within two years, two of the street naming support ers on council were voted out of office for their supportive stances on the King street name change. (Both were subsequently re elected several years later.) Minority rights and representation also is an important part of the street naming equation. T he four cities studied all had similar majority white populations and white representation on city councils and county commissions that severely outweighed the black population. Street name opponents sought to use their majority rights to steer government al votes their way, and away from a street named after King. However, elected officials are responsible to defending the rights of minority populations as well. Kuklinski et a l. polic 416.) Whites particularly object when the government intervenes on behalf of blacks, and expect government to comply with their majority concerns. The four case studied cities all featured majority white councils that resisted black pleas for the street naming, and importantly, only two cities Tampa and Pensacola were successful in having streets named for King. In Zephyrhills, the street name was awarded an d then rescinded and an honorary compromise settled upon, and in Palmetto a secondary street was named by a private developer, not the government was pushed into taking the lead, such as integrating schools and providing for equal voting rights that resulted in the implementation of policies designed to bring about radical change in society. To use Zephyrhills as an example, majority white
96 residents who comprise about 96% of the population criticized City Council for initially not voting with the majority and pushed for a referendum on the street name change and attempted to stage a recall election of several council members in support of the name change. Racism Uncover ed In his book, Racist America Joe Feagin discusses the fact that systemic racism permeates much of society and much of white America is not cognizant of it. Kuklinski o proof of racism, neither can opposition to a street naming in a white neighborhood be proof of racism. Alderman cautions against categorizing the naming of street s for King in only racist terms, but acknowledges that it is not unusual for whites to claim African American efforts to rename streets after King are racist acts being forced on white residents who do not share the history or adoration of the King legacy. In one Georgia color difficult to ignore the race issue when discussing these typ es of issues. Whites, meanwhile, are not as focused on race or race issues. In fact, white apathy is a major roadblock to achieving racial equality. Many whites believe the issue of race is over and that any problems in the black community are the resul ts of failures of black culture, not racial barriers (Schuman, Steeh, Bobo, Krysan, 1997, 295). Conversely, whites maintain their argument that their opposition to policy programs and race based issues are not due to racism, but on a larger commitment to t he American ideals of individuality, hard work and independence (1997, 296).
97 Level Playing Field Affirmative action issues and a street naming are examples of racial playing For example, to discuss affirmative action as a tool to level the playing field for blacks in admissions to college or employment is sometimes considered or referred to as reverse discrimination for whites. Yet often whites do not recognize that there hav e been built in forms of affirmative action in the majority society for generations. Consider for example the scions of society who are admitted to Yale University or Harvard University, often based upon who they know, what relatives attended the universi ty or the stature of family members. President John F. Kennedy, who first introduced the idea of affirmative action in 1962, was a recipient of family prestige and status as a stepping stone into Harvard. So too was his brother, Senator Ted Kennedy. Pre sident George W. Bush also was a recipient of family connections to get into Yale University. Blacks, and poor whites for that matter, did not have the family ties to get into state universities let alone the most prestigious universities and colleges in the nation. In fact, in much of the South, state universities were closed to blacks into the 1960s, including the University of Florida, Florida State University and the University of Alabama. It took protests, legal opinions, calling in the National Guard and other remedies to even allow blacks to attend a state university in the South. Many whites did not recognize the benefits they had taken for granted or that were provided to them based on the color of their skin. Consider this exchange taken from th Archie Bunker : If your spics and your spades want their rightful share of the American dream, let 'em get out there and hustle for it like I done.
98 Mike Stivic : So now you're going to tell me the black man has just as much chance as the white man to get a job? Archie Bunker : More, he has more... I didn't have no million people marchin' and protestin' to get me my job. Edith Bunker : No, his uncle got it for him. In this exchange, Archie Bunker stands in for th e white/American work ethic as discussed by Orey and Schuman et al and the theory that race is not about color but character. Edith Bunker is cognizant of the idea of white entitlement and affirmative action of who you are and who you know and family sta tus. Why Not Us? In the four cities considered in this study, segregated histories from the past contributed in the majority of blacks living in areas that excluded them from the primary white neighborhoods, commercial centers and shopping districts. I n order to rename a street that had significance in their community, they had to cross into white neighborhoods. As a result, the street naming process exposes racial divisions that many communities are not aware existed. The street renaming and rea ctions in the black community in Greenville, Mississippi is typical of what occurs in a community when efforts are undertaken to Greenville attorney and civil rights leader. 2 Blacks who have believed their communities were progressive and forward thinking are disappointed and point to race as the underlying reason for the opposition. We thought we were a progressive community. It turned out we talk a good
99 and activist in Greenville regarding opposition to the street renaming told The Commercial Appe al In community after community, when blacks are excluded from the political landscape and often kept out of the city limits themselves, they had no opportunity to participate in naming of streets, locating parks or otherwise exerting their influence on their neighborhoods. Naming streets after Martin Luther King Jr. helps to keep his message alive and remind African Americans of the struggles undertaken to achieve racial equality. While ing to Jonathan Tilove, 3 contributions to society in the minds of African American s and has the potential to historical context into the spatial reality of everyday life (Alderman 2000, 681). tudes towards other, more substantial racial conflicts. Camouflaged racism, coupled with self interest, affords the opportunity to foresee that whites will oppose actions or policies that they deem to be against their best interests. This defensive behavi or leads to the assumption of racism, with white concerns over job availability or promotions, property values and safety. Part of white reluctance to accept incremental black progress (integrated neighborhoods, street namings) may be based on the reality of perception. Because most Martin Luther King Jr. avenues are in predominately black neighborhoods, many also are in predominately poorer neighborhoods. According to Tilove, this leads people tin Luther King and the
100 4 They fear other whites will consider their properties to be devalued if associated with black history or other racial ties. Other issues also emerge with the changing face of racial a dvancements. Hughes maintains that as blacks continue to integrate into the larger white society and achieve professional, personal and economic parity, that progress further threatens white status and opportunities creating a new climate of racial attitud es (Tuch, Martin 1997, 73). The African American Point of View and Susan Welch (1991, 47) contend that it is important to examine black attitudes towards racism and discriminatio n in the United States and determine how blacks fare is a thing of the past or is still a part of the American equation. According to Sigelman and Welch, many blacks agree that the bonds of racism have been lessened, that many blacks have a raised standard of living and a more equal place in American society. Despite improvements and advancements over the past 50 years, however, especially with changes encompassing new legal rights, changes in attitudes and in economic and social improvements, blacks continue to lag d legacies of segregation, coupled with structural changes in the American economy, have conspired to leave many blacks in poverty, to deter blacks as a group from achieving equal status with whites and imperil the gains blacks have fought so hard to achie 17). In their study, the authors make an important distinction between prejudice and discrimination. Prejudice is an attitudinal opinion, where blacks are judged unfavorably
101 due to their race. Discrimination is the withholding of rights so lely due to race. Sigelman and Welch present the case that in the United States racial prejudice and discrimination th prejudicial racism and have moved past the wholesale discrimination of the past. to force racial integration on them, not because they oppose racial equality, but because they similar sentiments as white protestors claim infringement on their rights and reverse racism. White protesters in Zephyrhills complained about government intrusion into the street naming and ignoring the wishes of the majority white residents. They also argued despite the fact that Sixth Avenue is a public street, maintained by the city Whites particularly object when the government intervenes, such as with affirmative action policies or busing. But history indicates that significant racial advancement and progress in the United States is made only when government has stepped in to pro tect the rights of the minority from the rights of the majority. Numerous court cases (such as Brown v. Board of Education ), legislative acts (Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act) and intense lobbying and demonstrations led by Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King Jr., the Southern Christian Leadership Council and NAACP are all examples of government taking the lead in pushing through reforms. Often government was pushed into taking the lead, but it still resulted in the implementation of policies desi gned to bring about radical change in society.
102 Trends from the past still result in segregated neighborhoods in many communities. Blacks still are prone to move to older, inner ring suburbs with lower quality schools, mediocre services and higher taxes w 258). In more rural areas, blacks have been excluded from municipal boundaries and further kept out of white areas and white power structures. And too often, as we have seen, whites are not interested in black symbols or icons in their neighborhoods. The Push for Equal Footing Herbert Blumer defines prejudice with subjective ideas that establish an appropriate relationship between two or more groups. Bobo, Kluegel and Smith agree that in the United States, the dominant white opportunity and status (Tuch, Martin, 1997, 22). This view is shared by Lawrence and Ford as well. Many whites, therefore, perceive black demands (for equality, recognition of their cultural attributes, policy imp Tetlock, Carmines and Peterman (1993, 213). More is at stake in the dilemma between races than in housing or job promotions. Blacks seek access to values that include 2). Values can also mean acceptance and recognition
103 racial attitudes over the past 50 years and a transformation in that relationship that has, to a degree, hel (Tuch, Martin 1997, 24). The defeat of total social oppression and segregation has not resulted in elevating blacks as a whole to a genuine position of sharing economic, political and s ocial equality (1997, 31). Nor have the far reaching gains of the civil Blumer contends th at attitudes between groups are historically rooted. Bobo leaders push too hard for rights or respect and are too demanding in seeking equality. Hughes suggests tha t opposition to busing is not an abstract resentment by whites but a clear example of how political demands of blacks can produce real changes and impacts on their lives (Tuch, Martin 1997, 50). City council actions regarding street name changes also can impact white residents where they live or work and white residents believe they are being forced to accept changes outside their realm of consciousness. Thus, when white residents protest a proposed street renaming and claim they are not racist, they may be dealing with two subjective issues; the idea of unconscious general. Therefore, they generate reasons unassociated with race to oppose the project: inconvenience of chang ing their address and papers, cost of ordering new
104 the Vietnam War. Race can never be the issue raised when white opponents approach the podium to speak out agains t the street renaming. Modern Day Examples Numerous scholars studying race and racial cleavages in the United States today have concluded that race remains an issue, although racial hostilities and animosities have changed and dissipated. Yet several of the most infamous racial incidents in the United States from the days of segregation and the civil rights era can be mimicked and recreated with similar examples from current times. For example, a frequent argument against the street naming process is co mplaints by citizens on the process of the street naming and how it was handled by local government officials. Often some of those complaints are legitimate. Sometimes they are excuses. A number of political battles are being fought over gay rights, incl uding the right for gay couples to marry in California and the right for gay and lesbians to serve openly in the ngress after 18 years of controversy. Members there, according to the St. Petersburg Times were not opposed 5 That argument sounds familiar to those tendered by street naming opponents. In the height of Southern segregation denying black residents the right to vote was commonplace and only rectified by the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It was not unusual for blacks to be asked to pay a poll tax or take a test in order to vote. In Alabama in the early 20 th often were required to read and write and own at least $300 in property. The intent was to totally stall and prohibit blacks from voting (Riser 2010, 143 144). It is something
105 most Americans probably have thought was a relic of the past. But in the most recent national election in 2010, Tom Tancredo, a former Colorado congressman and candidate for governor, while speaking to a tea party convention told attendees that President Obama won elec voters. 6 Another iconic moment from the segregation period is that of Alabama Governor George Wallace in City this past year aroused similar language and reactions. Thousands of residents marched against the mosq ue with one protester, speaking to a crowd in New York, 7 This deals with a different issue and different minority group, but similar approach and language. A final example is the celebration of the con federacy and confederate flag. The New York Times reports that confederate groups are preparing to celebrate the 150 th Southern states. A mock inaugural of Jefferson Da vis being sworn in a president is planned, as are battlefield reenactments and other celebratory activities. Representatives of the Sons of the Confederacy are defending the activities as historical replications of Southern history. Some blacks are less s
106 us free, but it really attempt to design April as Confede rate History Month and issued a proclamation recognizing the confederacy that did not make any reference to slavery. The national outcry led to an apology and revised proclamation. Like street naming 8 Denial of gay rights, anti immigration, religious fears along with continued racism are modern day examples of discrimination and prejudicial actions. Yet they continue to be acceptable. Symbolic actions and camouflaged language covertly lessen the impact of the reality of racism. Economic Fear One of the more prominent issues to be raised by opponents to the Martin Luther King Jr. street n aming process is one of economic fear, both of personal costs to a 2006, 231). Instead, the typical street naming process results in King being recognized in poorer and African American neighborhoods due to the majority white opposition of more prominent streets being selected. A number of cities are experiencing wide redevelopment effo rts with King streets as a part of that focus. They include Miami,
107 Florida; Savannah, Georgia; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Seattle, Washington. Still other including T In 2007, Alderman, et al economic viability or decre ased property values. Their study found that while residents located on MLK Streets do what is found on a n MLK street and other urban areas (2007, 142). Other studies also look at how property values or neighborhoods may be affected. One study conducted on the impact of transit corridors on residential property values analyzed the positive and negative effe cts of residential property located in a one mile wide corridor centered on Interstate 90 in suburban Seattle, Washington (Kilpatrick, et al 2007, 303). According to the authors, a variety of factors can impact
108 property values such as accessibility to ma ss transit, proximity to transportation routes (both positive attributes such as access and negative attributes such as noise and congestion), desirable market location (i.e., waterfront, golf course frontage), proximity to power lines, rental residential development impact on single family occupied properties, and socio economic considerations such as noise, pollution or crime rates. In other words, many factors need to be taken into consideration when discussing property values in neighborhoods and citie s. Further, governmental policy changes or actions and market strength or downturns will determine property values. In addition, scholars have looked at other The Influence of School Busing on House Values public policy has on property values and finds that the market does respond to changes in a local area will generate relative price changes which have both efficiency and equity something as innocuous as a street name on property values. But is it Racism? The history of racial conflict in the United States is couched in camouflaged language. Toda and Confederate flag displays are all acts done that can be argued as in defense of street namin
109 King Street opponents. 9 That is a legitimate complaint. However, much of the literature examined and case studies of the different cities document that opposition is based on race perhaps not out and out racism, but fear of race, fear of losing social standing and fear of too much integration. Hughes recognizes that as society evolves in this country blacks become more integrated in both social and professional networks which cre ates a new threat to white hegemony (1997, 73). What occurs when blacks seek a street name change is a group conflict issue that whites do not know how to deal with. Blacks protesting and picketing in City Hall parking lots, organizing and collecting nei ghborhood petitions and flooding city council chambers challenges white residents and threatens their political power base and assumption of white supremacy. It changes the existing but often unspoken often angry and hostile to the idea of a street name change. Council members are put in a quandary: do they support a minority concer n or back the majority angry for the status quo. Minority populations lose out with council votes and the public opposition. In several communities, including Zephyrhills and Tampa, residents sought a referendum on the street name change or a vote among residents of the street. These calls for action were made knowing that blacks in the minority position would not win. The next solution for the white majority was to call for something else in the community to be named after King. A river, a bridge, a new street, a civic center or homes and businesses. Often this call for naming a substitute monument was part of
110 their interests and neighborhoods. The arguments against the street naming sometimes bordered on the sublime. In communities like Zephyrhills and Palmetto, council members and residents alike complained about disturbing the numbered street grids and arg ued that residents and visitors could get lost, be confused and less safe if a named street was added to the numbered system. Even in Palmetto, where the discussion included a dual naming of 17 th Street West, council members expressed concern about alteri ng the grid and safety impacts for police and fire responders if the numbered street pattern was altered. In a majority rule democracy, there is an inherent disadvantage forminority populations to successfully mount a campaign for change in their neighbo rhoods when they are not in control of the votes or have access to the major players. The lack of representation in all four cities hindered their ability to participate in the naming of streets in their communities and to exert control over their space a nd city public space. This is the result of several factors, including past segregation practices that continue to impact where and how people of different races lives in a community, the gerrymandering of boundaries both outside city limits to exclude bl acks and other minorities and residue of segregated neighborhoods inside cities that isolate minorities within cities. As Feagin aptly recognizes, in the racial demography of established communities that impacts everyday life, the majority of blacks spen d much more of their time interacting with whites than the majority of whites spend interacting with blacks. And, he states, more blacks work, shop and travel with large numbers of whites where few whites do the same with larger numbers of blacks. Whites basically live separate lives
111 from blacks and from other Americans of color (2000, 132). It is that lack of integration that inhibits the abilities of blacks to share their culture or their national heroes with whites. As Carol Swain notes earlier, the lack of connection between council members and their constituents in majority rule communities inhibits residents from effectively interacting and sharing their interests with elected officials. Coded and Isolated (2003, 3). As critical race theory projects, white residents are not aware of their privileges in society, they assume them and believe they have earned them. Whites believe that blacks and other minorities are disadvantaged, not due to racism, but because they do not take advantage of the opportun ities available in the United States and their lifestyles hinder them from realizing the American dream. As Feagin and Vera The easy answer is yes. A more realistic answer is yes and no. Politicians have either tried to avoid the race issue altogether or as Richard Nixon did during his presidential campaign in 1968 speak
112 1989, 53). Ronald Reagan campaigning for the presidency in 1980 used similar speech was symbolic as well, New Philadelphia, Miss., where civil rights activists were murdered in the 1960s. In the 1995 gubernatorial elec tion in Louisiana, coded language including a call to repeal affirmative action and support of plaintiffs challenging a majority African American congressional district were used by the white candidate, Mike Foster, to appeal to white voters. Orey notes t hat none of the overt racism described by Key in his across. One tactic: he used crime to compare predominately white Jefferson Parish with Camouflaged and Invisible In the first hypothesis it is noted that whites who oppose the renaming of a street in their neighborhood after Dr. King be it residential or commercial will color their objections with non racial rationalizations. A variety of alternative objections will be cited such as defending costs to both themselves and the municipality, they will object for historical street name reasons (the most legitimate usually), they will qu estion the ability to rename numbered streets and they will try to find another site to name after the slain civil rights leader. They will even claim that blacks are receiving special treatment as evidenced in Zephyrhills. A resident who called the prot is that 'equal' means equal, not special. I think these folks out here are demanding 10
113 The second hypothesis notes that i n all four cities different patterns of racism sometimes developed or could be examined through different lens. The question is, will these differences result in similar objections name a street for King. The case studies reveal a white society that has emerged that while opposed to overt racism, is still uncomfortable with racial issues, and therefore camouflages its fear of race and fear of loss of its social standing in American society. Whites generally believe racism is over, that governmental programs to level the playing field for African Americans are reverse discrimination, and that, as the case studies indicate, blacks are not entitled to street names or other memorial recognition of African American icons that impact white neighborhoods. Further, many whites are comfortable with their versions of separate neighborhoods. Another Zephyrhills resident into an integrated ne 11 It is apparent that the effort to unite black and white communities through a street naming process often fails. As has been noted, streets named for Martin Luther King Jr. represent some of the most controversial and widespread methods used by African Americans to recognize the historical contributions of minorities. What also has been demonstrated is that while there are purposeful and legitimate reasons for white residents to object to naming a street after Martin Luther King Jr., there are substantial indications that racial uncertainty, fear and prejudice lies behind the reasons and excuses. The United States has a long history of naming streets after historical figures and notables. Those so honored, however, are traditionally white leaders and figures.
114 The MLK street naming movement seeks to provide diversity to this geographical phenomenon and to r ecognize the contributions of minority figures and leaders in the nation and in communities. Naming a street becomes a symbol in the quest for equality and a measure of who has social power to categorize public spaces. Difficult to Define A feature of the Jim Crow, segregation era was the ability for many white Americans to disavow the race issue by not seeing it. Blacks were out of sight in many instances, even when working in a home or office. White Americans did not see black America. They surely did not see the differences in lifestyles, educational opportunities or employment. As a protagonist in Isabel Wilkerson's The Warmth of Other Suns notes cage, and the peo The primary person responsible for breaking down those barriers was Martin Luther King Jr. It was his persistence in the non violent campaigns of the 1950s until his death in 1968 that changed how America looked at race. Sanctioned laws and policies that prevented blacks from sitting on public transportation, attending white schools, utilizing white hospitals and other discriminatory practices were eliminated through court orders, federal law and low and s tate enactments. But King recognized, as did others, that laws would not and could not change attitudes. In fact, he found during his life that dealing with some issues, including those in the North, were trickier. It was a truism discovered earlier by Gunnar Myrdal in his study on race in the United States.
115 Myrdal found, as King did in the la te 1960s, that invisible barriers erected in northern states did not deal with sanctioned voting or housing issues, but more subtle methods of general, but at the same t ime, almost everybody practices discrimination in his own other words, whites did not approve of discrimination but did not wish to have their personal space complicate d by blacks, either in their neighborhood, social activities or discriminations which creates the color bar in the North... About this social process the ordinary white nor Sixty seven years after Myrdal, race relations in the United States have made unbelievable strides. Thus, when asking if naming a street after Martin Luther King Jr. is connected to race (instead of rac ism) one must respond in the positive. White Americans in general, due to the many changes made in the legal system and societal disfavor with overt expressions of racism, prefer to not exhibit overt protestations on racial issues that affect them, even i f they impact their personal space or neighborhoods. As to whether residents who oppose a street naming are necessarily racist, this dissertation demonstrates that some are, as comments throughout the case studies indicate. And so is society in general. In all four Florida cities efforts to remain a street began in parts of town that are primarily black, primarily poor and basically segregated. Efforts to expand the street name into other parts of town primarily white areas either residential or commer cial led to the disruption and opposition. Yet as Myrdal found in 1944, and has been experienced over the past 20 years in Florida from
116 Tampa to Palmetto and Zephyrhills to Pensacola, many white Americans, while generally opposed to discrimination, rema in unconsciously oblivious to black concerns in their communities or that race remains an issue in the United States today. The continued invisibility of black Americans is the issue today. Their heroes, their causes and their needs are camouflaged withi n the greater white American society. Perhaps Lerone Bennett Jr. (Clayton 1996, 36) summarized it best when he assessed the plight 1 Poynter Institute Online, St. Petersburg, Florida, November 24, 2003 2 The Commercial Appeal Memphis, TN, February 5, 1991 1A 3 Tilove, Jonathan, September 22, 2004, National Public Radio 4 Ibid 5 St. Petersburg Tim es December 12, 2010, PC 1 6 b ostonherald.com/news, February 6, 2010, accessed November 15, 2010 7 CBS News, August 23, 2010 8 c New York Times November 29, 2010 9 Pensacola News Journal June 18, 1998 10 St. Pe tersburg Times April 30, 2004 PC 1 11 St. Petersburg Times October 30, 2003 PC 1
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118 Canon, David T., 1999, Race, Redistricting and Representation: the Unintended Consequences of Black Majority Districts Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Carmines, Edward G. and James A. Stimson, 1989, Issue Evolution: Race and th e Transformation of American Politics Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Pensacola News Journal February 15, 1998 assessed online pjn.com, July 29, 2010 Tampa Tribune January 15, 1988 access online May 29, 2010 Clayton, Obie Jr., editor, 1996, An American Dilemma Revisited, Race Relations in a Changing World New York: Russell Sage Foundatio n, Power Prospects of African Americans in Gunnar A. Dentler. Crenshaw, Kimbele, Neil Gotanda, Gary Peller and Kendall Thomas, editors, 1995, Critical Race Theory: the Key Writings that Formed t he Movement New York: New Press; Protection: Reckoning With Unconscious Charles R. Lawrence III; Boundaries of Race: Political Geography Richard Thompson Ford and d the Interest Convergence Dilemma Dwyer, Owen J. and Derek H. Alderman, 2008, Civil Rights Memorials and the Geography of Memory Chicago: Center for American Places, Columbia University. Emails and letters, April 2 1 2004 to May 5 2004 addressed to City Council, City of Zephyrhills Independent News Vol. 4, No. 45, November 18, 2004, www.pensapedia.com accessed November 10, 2010 Feagin, Joe R., 2000, Ra cist America: Roots, Current Realities and Future Reparations New York: Routledge. Fitzpatrick, Edna, deputy clerk, Minutes of the Hillsborough County/City of Tampa Public Hearing, August 31, 1989, Flint, Colin, editor, 2004, Spaces of Hate, Geographi es of Discrimination and Intolerance in the USA New York: Routledge,
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124 Tuch, Steven A. and Jack K. Martin, editors, 1997, Racial Attitudes in the 1990s, Continuity and Change Westport CT: Praeger Press, Changing of the Lee Sigelman; Faire Racism: The Cryst allization of a Kinder, Gentler Anti Lawrence Bobo, James R. Kluegel and Ryan A. Smith; Michael Hughes; Cedric Herring and Charles Amissah. UNC Center for Civil Rights, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, August 25, 2006, Invisible Fences: Municipal Underbounding in Southern Moore County http://www.law.unc.edu/documents/civilrights /briefs/invisiblefencesreport.pdf United States Census 1990, http://palmettofl.htu.myareaguide.com/demographics.html The Journal of Politics Vol. 58, No. 4, pp. 1156 70. Wang, K., T Journal of Urban Economics Vol. 20, pp. 152 66. Washington Post /ABC News poll, January 13 16, 2009, http:// www. washingtonpost.com/ wp srv/ politics/documents /postpoll011709.html Wiese, Andrew, 2004, Places of their Own Chicago, IL, University of Chicago Press. Wilkerson, Isabel, 2010, The Warmth of Other Suns, Epic Story of America's Great Migration New York: Random House Wise, Madonna Jervis, 2010, Images of America, Zephyrhills Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, SC. S t. Petersburg Times, July 22, 1998, PC 2
125 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Steve n Fenton Spina is the former city manager for the City of Zephyrhills, Florida. A graduate of the University of South Florida M aster of Public Administration program and a graduate o f the University of Florida with a Master of Arts in Political Science, he received his Ph.D in Political Science from the University of Florida in May 2011.