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Chapel Hill Committee Supports Renaming Airport Road For MLK

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — An effort to rename Airport Road in Chapel Hill after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is gaining steam.

Tuesday night, a committee of the town council suggested renaming the road. The full council could vote on the issue at a meeting in two weeks.

Airport Road is perhaps the most prominent thoroughfare through the city, passing by City Hall. The local chapter of the NAACP proposed renaming the road MLK Boulevard.

"This is a great way to honor Martin Luther King," said Bill Thorpe, of the Chapel Hill/Carrboro branch of the NAACP.

Some residents have objected to the idea, pointing out that Chapel Hill already has a Martin Luther King Street. But it is only about a tenth of a mile long and starts and stops in a community of duplexes.

In other cities, like Raleigh, the street named for King is a pretty major thoroughfare.

The town naming committee dismissed a compromise floated last week that would have dedicated the street in the civil rights leader's honor but not changed its name. The committee agreed Tuesday to ask for the change to become official May 9, 2005, 45 years to the day of King's visit to Chapel Hill in 1960 to speak on the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill campus.

Committee members Edith Wiggins, Sally Greene, Bill Strom and Jim Ward said they also will urge their colleagues at the next council meeting, scheduled for June 14, to create a task force to explore other initiatives that would further promote the ideals King espoused.

Those efforts might include naming a room in the Chapel Hill Library for King and funding a public art project to celebrate his legacy, two ideas Wiggins proposed in a plan to avoid remaining the road.

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