ZEPHYRHILLS RESCINDS MARTIN LUTHER KING STREET - Mark Antokas

04/27/04

INTRO: The City of Zephyrhills has voted three times on the name of one street. Sixth Avenue for a short time was known as Martin Luther King Boulevard. White residents who live on the street elected a woman, Gina King to the city council after she promised to petition the counsel to change the name back. WMNF’s Mark Antokas has the story.

Script:Now you see it, Now you don’t. Last night the Zephyrhills City Council voted Three to two, effectively removing Martin Luther King’s name from street signs on the former Sixth Avenue. Most on the council caved into angry white voters, who made their wishes clear ten days ago in electing Gina King, a political neophyte, who’s only platform was the name change. Tensions ran high as white residents of the street insisted that the numerical grid system of streets was better than the name Martin Luther King Jr. Gina King, a platinum blonde in a red dress and red spike heels, the newest member of the Zephyr Hills City Council. Roll Tape:

Twenty-Two year old Chris Carrocelli, of Zephyrhills heard about the meeting on the National Alliance’s (a nation hate group) website. He came to distribute National Alliance’s messages against Blacks and Jews. Roll Tape:

Ben Yullums, a resident of Zephyrhills and a Viet-Nam vet linked Martin Luther King to un-American Activities.. Roll Tape:

A woman who lives on 6th Avenue who did not want to be identified became emotional in her appeal to keep the MLK name. Roll Tape:

Gary Waters, a teacher in Zephyrhills attempted to educate the City Council on the MLK legacy. Roll Tape:
Richard Payton of Zephyrhills couldn’t believe that it was all about a name.He relived a Dade City riot years ago. Roll Tape:

The Reverend J. Pickett said that King reminded the council of the “hand in hand� philosophy of Dr. King and brought up some old skeletons. Roll tape

Zephyrhills City Manager Steve Spina was the only white person at the meeting who spoke for Civil Rights. He asked the Council to examine it’s actions in the light of history, and implored the City Council to keep the MLK designation. Roll Tape:

In Pasco County, this is Mark Antokas, for WMNF radio news.

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