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Miami Herald - April 4, 2006
MLK's eldest child is out to reclaim boulevard
Luther King Jr.'s eldest child wants to build on his legacy of
advocating for poor people during a speech tonight to commemorate the
37th anniversary of his assassination.
By ANDREA ROBINSON
In its fourth year of a campaign to revitalize Martin Luther King
Boulevard, an inner-city economic development agency brings the eldest
child of the slain civil rights leader to Miami to draw attention to
Yolanda King, actress and motivational speaker, will address Miamians
tonight during the annual Reclaim the Dream memorial service on Liberty
City's most famous street.
The tribute, sponsored by the Martin Luther King Economic Development
Corporation, commemorates the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.,
gunned down at a Memphis motel 37 years ago today.
It focuses on a goal of King's civil rights work that gets little
mention these days -- bringing prosperity and wealth to poor
neighborhoods. The corporation is trying to bring new businesses,
higher incomes and a deeper sense of hope along MLK Boulevard, also
known as Northwest 62nd Street, and into one of Miami's impoverished
''At the end of his days, he was dealing specifically with economic
justice. That's where the battle still remains,'' Yolanda King said of
her father Monday. ``This event very much captures some of the work
that he was doing. It makes so much sense to be involved in something
At the campaign kickoff in 2003, her sister, the Rev. Bernice King,
scolded residents and officials for the deteriorated social and
economic conditions along the street that bears her father's name.
For more than two decades, Liberty City residents have heard myriad
promises that government would pour millions of dollars into the area
in the hope of bringing back businesses that left after the 1980
McDuffie riots. Violence broke out in mostly black areas of the city
after four white county police officers were acquitted of beating a
black motorcyclist to death.
Leaders at the Martin Luther King Economic Development Corp. hope
Yolanda King will move both Liberty City and other residents and
business owners to maintain interest in their revitalization project.
The proposal includes bringing a mix of shopping plazas, street
improvements, park upgrades and cultural landmarks to Liberty City and
David Chiverton, tribute coordinator, said the past year delivered some
progress. The county opened a new office plaza building to house
several departments, including human services, solid waste, corrections
and Team Metro. Several businesses and the MLK Park also were renovated.
The sight of construction at Edison Plaza sparked a buzz in the
neighborhood, Chiverton said. The $13.5 million business development
project, site of the old Winn-Dixie market, will bring a major grocery
chain and several urban wear shops. Chiverton predicts the project will
be ready by early fall.
''Before, people were skeptical, saying nothing is going to happen,''
Chiverton said. ``It's getting better. They can see something going
King and her three siblings suffered another tragedy earlier this year.
On Jan. 30, their mother, Coretta Scott King, 78, died of pneumonia
brought on by complications caused by ovarian cancer.
Yolanda King said her mother's death was ``probably the toughest thing
I've had to go through. Fortunately we're strongly spiritually rooted.''
An actress, King also is founder of Higher Ground Productions, an
organization ''dedicated to the celebration of diversity and unity
among all people.'' She also has authored motivational books, the
latest of which is Embracing Your Power in 30 Days, a Journey of
Self-Discovery and Personal Freedom.