SIKESTON, MO (KFVS) - In a public meeting on Monday in Sikeston, the idea of changing Main Street to Martin Luther King Drive was proposed.
During the meeting, Justice for All President Larry McClellon spoke at the podium in front of the city council to express his reasons why the name change needs to happen.
"He believed in everybody in here and loved everybody in here," McClellon said, talking about Dr. King.
McClellon wasn't the only one who spoke on the matter. Gail Emanuel and Nathaniel Green, both of Sikeston, agreed with McClellon to change the name of the street.
"Dr. Martin Luther King was for all people, all colors, all nationalities," Emanuel said. "We feel that asking for this street change is not asking for too much."
"We had to fight to get the United States to come together and give him a holiday," Green said. "It was a big fight. Then a big fight with the states. After that, then problems with the local schools closing. So the black kids said we're going to stay at home. The white kids said we're going o stay home too."
Another Sikeston man disagreed with changing the street name.
John Graham of Sikeston took to the podium to say there are other options to honor Dr. King here, and that changing the name of the street isn't the best option.
"I personally think it would cause a lot more controversy changing Main Street to Dr. King," Graham said. "A possible thing to do would be create a program where you could help students and do it after Dr. King. Have it set up as a funding operation to lift the kids up rather than to let them continue to fight and argue and have troubles."
McClellon asked the council to take a second and pretend to be black, with the exception of the only black council member, so that they could understand what it's like to be in his shoes.
"Just think of yourselves as black," McClellon said. "Respect. We want a little respect and I think that [changing the street name] is a way to start healing. Sikeston has so many scars. It's pitiful."
Mayor Steven Burch understands the desire to unite more of Sikeston's residents for the betterment of the community.
"Anything that can create unity in a community so we can move forward is a great idea," Mayor Burch said.
However, Burch offered to meet with McClellon in several weeks to discuss what options might work best, including talking about changing the street name and any other options that might be a better solution to honor Dr. King in the Sikeston community.
"I think it's too early to say. We're going to have a serious meeting to determine what best unifies the community," Mayor Burch said.
McClellon agreed to meet. However, he feels the best option is the street name change and plans to not back down on it until it is changed; no matter how much time it takes and how many marches it takes.
"We are concerned with exactly what we set out for," McClellon said. "And that is changing Main Street to Dr. King. We have walked it once. And if we have to walk it twice, three times, four times or five times, we will do the same thing. And if we continue to get rejected, we will continue to march."