Officials gathered Sunday to dedicate part of Memorial Avenue to civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., speaking about the importance of honoring him and teaching children the lessons he taught.
"We're honoring someone that is worth of our praise," said Henry Mitchell, executive director of The Campbell Street Family and Youth Center, where the event was held.
King died when he was 39 years old, after having a premonition about it, Mitchell said.
A replica of the street sign proclaiming Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
"Did he stop?" Mitchell asked the audience of more than 60 people. "No. Even knowing he might be killed, he continued on. This is a man who gave his life for us."
The street signs will help people "remember a man who did not die in vain, but left a legacy for us to follow," he said.
Dedicating Memorial Avenue from Campbell to Hepburn streets as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard is important to help people remember the man, said Bill Hall, City Council president.
George Washington died about 210 years ago and, since then, he has been honored on quarters and dollar bills and with memorials. Likewise, Abraham Lincoln died about 140 years ago and
has been honored on pennies and $5 bills and with memorials.
"Two hundred years from now, our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will remember who Martin Luther King Jr. was and what he did," Hall said. "That is why we name streets."
Marlyne Whaley, mistress of ceremonies for the event, said Fredrick "Red" Richardson, chairman of the dedication event committee, approached her and asked "Don't you think it's time we have a street named for Martin Luther King Jr.?"
On his travels, he had seen that so many other places had streets and buildings named for King, but not Williamsport.
Mayor Gabriel J. Campana said it was great seeing children at the event and said they should strive to make their parents, teachers and God proud and follow in the footsteps of King.
"Today is definitely a day of unity in our city and, as Marlyne said, it's about time," Campana said.
State Rep. Rick Mirabito, D-Williamsport, also recognized the importance of having children at the dedication.
"Today is a day of celebration, especially for our children," he said. "It is important to preserve our past."
King wanted to eradicate racism and poverty, but Mirabito said they still exist today and that people in the community must continue working to get rid of them.
"Let us dedicate the street," he said. "Let us celebrate Dr. King and his vision. Let us live our lives ... in his image, in the image he taught us. That is a tribute he would be proud of."
Dedicating the street in King's name is important, but so is keeping it free of litter, drugs and crime, said the Rev. Leslie Wilson, pastor of Maple Street African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.
"We have pushed too far, too hard and too long to get this done," Wilson said.
He, too, believed in the importance of educating the children on the past.
"The school system can only do so much, but you and I can do the rest of the job," Wilson said. "Take a young person by the hand and start at the very end of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard."
By teaching the history to the child, "one day someone may name a street after them," he said.