The Memphis City Council will mark the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with the first city street named in honor of the civil rights leader who was killed in Memphis 44 years ago this week.
The council earlier this year approved the name change of a portion of Linden Avenue Downtown that runs by Clayborne Ball Temple. The church, at Hernando Street and what is now Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, was the staging area for many of the marches during the sanitation workers strike of 1968 that brought King to Memphis.
In the decades after his assassination, the intersection was the staging area for the start of annual marches on the anniversary to City Hall and later to the National Civil Rights Museum. The museum was built at the site of what was the Lorraine Motel, where King was shot.
A section of Interstate 240 in Midtown was renamed in King’s honor shortly after the assassination.
Meanwhile, council members will honor King Tuesday, April 3, at the start of its meeting.
The meeting at City Hall, 125 N. Main St., begins at 3:30 p.m.
The meeting comes on the day 44 years ago that King made his last speech at Mason Temple, in South Memphis.
Council member Janis Fullilove plans to play excerpts from “The Mountaintop” speech at the start of the council session after a moment of silence.
Fullilove’s request met resistance last month from council chairman Bill Morrison, who said the council could observe a moment of silence but not the playing of the speech.
“This has not been done in the past and we will hold to that pattern,” he wrote in a March 23 email.
Fullilove responded the same day by saying, “I cannot in good conscience mark this momentous week with simply a ‘moment of silence’ on his behalf.”
“It is time out for business as usual,” she added. “To say that we cannot take 15 minutes during the opening session of council to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the men and women that he died for is unacceptable.”
Morrison’s most recent ruling on the matter is that Fullilove will have five minutes “personal privilege for further remarks” after she presents a resolution in honor of union sanitation workers.
In other items, the council is scheduled to vote on a resolution applying for $2 million in state Fast Track Infrastructure grant funding for the KTG USA Inc., or Kruger, tissue paper plant and expansion in North Memphis.
The council delayed a vote on the measure last month.
The grants are a key part of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s approach to economic development across the state. Haslam has said the grants for infrastructure improvement are more effective for industrial prospects as well as state and local governments than tax breaks the state could offer.
The council will also try again on an ordinance rezoning 11 acres at U.S. 64 and Tenn. 385 as part of a campus master plan for India Cultural Center & Temple Inc.
The council will also set a hearing date for a wood-chipping and processing operation on 54 acres at Knight Road west of Getwell Road. The applicant, MTL Environmental LLC, is a subsidiary of Michael’s Tree and Loader Service LLC. It is the disaster recovery arm of the Memphis-based company.
A council vote is likely at its April 17 meeting.