ZEPHYRHILLS LAST MLK VOTE. Mark Antokas

05/11/04

INTRO: Last night, the Zephyrhills City Council attempted to put to rest racial divisions which have resulted from a street name change. In October of last year, City Council voted to change the name of Sixth Avenue to Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, infuriating many of the white community. Last nights vote to restore the street name to Sixth Avenue, with a token reference to King, attracted national media attention as Zephyrhills has become the only community in Florida to change a street named for Martin Luther King. WMNF’s Mark Antokas was at the meeting. Roll Tape:

Elaine Jones of the Black Caucus spoke last night, one voice in a crowd in excess of two hundred who gathered to witness and comment on the name change of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue. It is again Sixth Avenue. The vast majority of the speakers, both black and white were in favor of keeping the MLK street name. But as City Council Woman Liz Geiger has said, “Sixth Avenue in Zephyrhills is the avenue to re-election.� LaVaunne Miller of the Pasco County Democratic Party read a statement of support. Roll Tape.

Roy Kaplan of the National Conference of Community and Justice, was in favor of keeping the name. Roll Tape:

Blanche Benford of the Zephyrhills Unity Innitiative asked for some respect. Roll Tape:

Stan Roller, Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce took another approach. Roll Tape:

Dan Callaghan of the Society of Citizens Against Racism lent his support. Roll Tape:

T.K. Hayes took a swipe at Gina King, the newly elected City Council member who’s mandate was the namechange. Roll Tape.

Pat Burke urged the building of bridges. Roll Tape.

Ben Yullmans showed what he was made of. Roll Tape;

Dorothy Detuma brought out other ghosts. Roll Tape;

A man identifying himself as Hewlan wanted nothing to do with Martin Luther King. Roll Tape:

Gregg Hilferding who’s webpage better-zephyrhills.org outlined many of the concerns of the community. Roll Tape:

Irene Dobson initiated the namechange in October. Roll Tape:

And of course Gina King, the only council member to vote against keeping some sort of reference to Martin Luther King on Sixth Avenue. Roll Tape.

Zephyrhills is a city that has begun the process of healing. Members of the black community who have been protesting these last weeks at City Hall, are for the moment content, that for their efforts, they have been met half way. This is Mark Antokas for WMNF, radio news.

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