Charleston gives historic Court Street honorary name after Martin Luther King Jr.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A statement was made by the City of Charleston and surrounding communities on Monday, according to Kitty Dooley.

Dooley and several other Charleston officials spoke during a ceremony Monday, on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, that honorarily named the historic Court Street in downtown to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

“Seeing Dr. King’s name lets individuals know that he is important to us and our society,” Dooley told MetroNews. “Maybe they will go pick up a book about him, maybe they will study his speeches and understand what he wanted America to be.”

Kitty Dooley

Dooley, a Charleston attorney, is the committee co-chair and applicant of the petition to rename the street. Herself and Jennifer Pharr, a Charleston City Council member-at-large spearheaded the project to honorarily name one of Charleston’s most historic and busy streets.

Court Street is heavily trafficked as it houses Charleston City Hall, the Kanawha County Courthouse, Kanawha County Magistrate Court, and other local fixtures.

The ceremony that featured more than 200 people in attendance was held on Court Street in front of the Charleston Town Center Mall.

Dooley believed the renaming of a street to Dr. King was long overdue in Charleston. She said this was a noticeable omission that was finally corrected on Monday.

Clint Arnold of Winfield, who attended the ceremony, believed the same thing.

“I’ve lived in a lot of cities and all of them already have Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Highway, Street,” Arnold said. “I think it’s impactful that the City of Charleston now has a significant road with historic significance that is named after him,” he told the media.

The honorary renaming almost did not happen but a compromise was reached following controversy on the decision.

Several business and religious leaders met with Dooley, Pharr, and other officials to discuss the options other than completely getting rid of the name Court Street. The result was the honorary name that was approved by Charleston City Council on January 6.

“We want people to understand that Dr. King’s work went beyond the dream,” Dooley said. “He worked to end racism, discrimination, poverty, income inequality and also overspending in regards to the military.

‘While he has been gone for more than 50 years, his work is still relevant today. In fact, it may be even more relevant in the world we live in today.”

Following the renaming ceremony, there was a birthday party for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the MLK Jr. Center on 314 Donnally Street in Charleston.

Story by Jake Flatley