East Grand Rapids, Michigan, February 22, 2022 – Showing enthusiastic support for a community-led effort to honor a civil rights hero, the East Grand Rapids City Commission on Monday unanimously approved the renaming of Franklin Street SE to Martin Luther King Jr. Street.
The renaming of Franklin Street from west city limits to Plymouth Avenue followed a formal request from the Moving Ahead for Remarkable Civil Rights Heroes, or M.A.R.C.H., Committee and direct outreach by the group to residents as well as a public hearing. The City Commission on Monday also approved the commemorative designation of Martin Luther King Jr. Street as Franklin Street to indicate its historical name.
“The renaming of Franklin Street to Martin Luther King Jr. Street is a significant and intentional way we can honor Dr. King’s life and legacy – and celebrate our community’s commitment to equity and inclusion,” Mayor Katie Favale said. “These signs will offer a daily reminder of what Dr. King stood for, why we need to continue to push for civil rights and how we can be a welcoming community for everyone.”
The official street renaming and commemorative designation will take effect May 2. Removal of the green Franklin Street signs and installation of new green Martin Luther King Jr. Street signs and new blue commemorative Franklin Street signs will take place over a period of time before and after that date.
Franklin Street also runs through the city of Grand Rapids, which renamed its portion of the road Martin Luther King Jr. Street in October – also at the request of the M.A.R.C.H. Committee. The street renaming in Grand Rapids goes into effect today.
Members of the M.A.R.C.H. Committee presented the group’s proposal for the street renaming to the East Grand Rapids City Commission in November, saying it would serve as a unifying act for the city.
“There are few leaders who are as well known for making a lasting impact on civil rights in the United States as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” the M.A.R.C.H. Committee wrote in its formal request to the City Commission. “His nonviolent activism for equality for African Americans and the world shaped the civil rights movement of the 20th century. Honoring his life and legacy by boldly and jointly renaming this street … promotes our shared goal of creating a welcoming environment for all. We believe EGR, given its current interest in equity, equality and inclusion, is ready to promote history in your city by moving ahead with this intentional action.”
The commemorative Franklin Street designation enables residents to use either Martin Luther King Jr. Street or Franklin Street for mail, delivery and navigation services.
The City estimates the cost for 14 new signs, including installation, will be less than $5,000.