People Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Way Dedication

By: Carly Stephenson Email
By: Carly Stephenson Email

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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- People gathered together to celebrate the renaming of Cantrell Avenue to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way at JMU's Memorial Hall.

Those behind the name change said it's a symbol that reflects the diversity of the city.

After city leaders cut the ribbon, to celebrate the change, people walked the street in unity.

During the ceremony, children from different elementary schools came together to sing songs about civil rights.

Leaders said remembering Dr. King is a way to make sure all children can live in a better world.

Some people at the ceremony remembered seeing King or hearing his words.

Leaders said the next step lies in the hands of the kids.

"Because this day means nothing if we can't have our children live in a better world than we live in," said Vice Mayor Charles Chenault.

For some of these children, their parents were not even born yet to see King reshape Americans' attitudes on race; however, what they can see is the impact.

"He made every race come together because at first, they were separate," said Kaliyah Davis, a fourth grader at Spotswood Elementary.

"White people wouldn't treat them fairly because they thought they weren't as good as them," said Grace Trost, a student at Keister Elementary.

"He was a peacemaker unlike some other African American heroes, he has helped everybody come together in a peaceful way instead of fighting back," said Haile Madden, a fourth grader at Spotswood Elementary.

After remembering King's legacy at Memorial Hall, people are walked what used to be Cantrell Avenue, and celebrated the renaming to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way.

"A permanent symbol that's here and reflects the diversity of the city and reflects the maturity of the city," said Stan Maclin, the president of the Harriet Tubman Culture Center.

"Just because your skin color's different doesn't mean how you are on the inside is different. Everybody's the same race, some people are just darker than others," said Haile.

JMU will host its annual Martin Luther King, Jr. program at 7 p.m. Monday and everyone is invited.

Both EMU and JMU are honoring King with a week of activities. is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

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