In 1962, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed in Memphis TN. In the years following his death, cities began dedicating civic infrastructure like schools, buildings, and other locations with his name. Streets were one of the most common dedications. Streets, like all physical infrastructure, exist in specific places within a city. These locations themselves speak to the values and perspectives of a city when a symbolic name or memorial is established there. Put another way, where we name can be just as significant as what we name.
So what can we learn by looking at the streets where Dr. King's name was attached? Across the range of issues central to his message - economic opportunity, social integration, education - how do these communities compare to the rest of their city?
Where's MLK is a project of Sasaki Strategies.
The primary demographic dataset for this analysis was the 2016 ACS Census Data at the block group level. City averages were based on urbanized area, which accounts for municipal fragmentation and generally does a better job of capturing city-level dynamics.
The roads data came from the 2016 Census TIGER roads layer. A series of SQL commands were executed to identify streets with a partial match on some version of MLK. For instance: 'MLK', 'Martin Luther', and 'Dr. Martin Luther King' would all match. There was some light editing to create cleaner geometries, but generally the data reflects the geometries as gathered by the Census, which can be messy.
To identify the MLK Corridors, block groups which intersect the MLK Road were selected. Those block group characteristics were then averaged to create composite characteristics for each corridor. Each of those composite characteristics was then compared to the corresponding city average.