To honor Dr. King, work to revive Delray Beach's The Set neighborhood

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8/16/1961 Martin Luther King Jr. (Jay Spencer/The Miami News)
8/16/1961 Martin Luther King Jr. (Jay Spencer/The Miami News)

This past weekend, the world paused to observe the life and legacy of one of mankind’s greatest fighters for civil and economic rights, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Yet, this year was especially wrought with criticisms and contradictions between the symbolism of the acts to honor Dr. King and the substance of the actions that are against what Dr. King stood for.

At the national level, many observers are calling out politicians waxing poetic about Dr. King’s legacy civil rights champion while preventing passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Bill. At the state level, Florida’s Governor recently quoted Dr. King while pushing a policy that punishes an honest appraisal and public education about the conditions that made Dr. King’s fight necessary and difficult.

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In 1935, when Dr. King was just 6 years old, Delray Beach’s City Council designated The Set as the “Negro Area or Settlement.” From that point on, public policy, public/private investments and community sentiment reflected the existence of two cities: (1) the mostly Black Set that was intentionally excluded from investment (2) just about everywhere else, where investments in neighborhood development and people improvement have been consistently targeted.

Today the residents of The Set are still fighting to eradicate slums and provide residents with good jobs paying good wages. The unemployment rate in The Set is 18% vs. 9% city average; college degree attainment rate is 77% lower than city average; 38% of residents have no health insurance.

To ensure that the symbolic good will displayed in honor of Dr. King translates into meaningful actions, The Set Neighborhood Alliance and West Atlantic Redevelopment Coalition intend to ramp up our efforts to improve the lives and prosperity of the residents of The Set.

We will support elected officials who take meaningful actions to improve the lives of residents of The Set, and we will continue oppose those who don’t. We will loyally support businesses who collaborate to increase inclusion and equity in hiring, procurement and community investment.

If you share Dr. King’s conviction ensure that money should be invested in affordable and safe housing, that slums and ghettos are eliminated, that everyone has an opportunity to get a job that guarantees a livable wage, and that injustice against anyone is met with demands for justice from everyone, we welcome you to join with us.

Visit thesetdelray.org to learn more.

Charles “Chuck” Ridley, Chair, West Atlantic Redevelopment Coalition; Reginald Cox, The Set Neighborhood Alliance; Morris Carstarphen, The Set Neighborhood Alliance; Ann Stacy Wright Vice Chair, WARC; Brian C. Johnson, President/CEO, Minority Builders Coalition & the South Florida Black Prosperity Alliance.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: To honor Dr. King, work to revive Delray Beach's The Set neighborhood

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