Harden Street to honor MLK

Private donors have given Columbia $3,000 to place a plaque at Greene and Harden streets in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

The plaque will unofficially change the name of that section of Harden Street to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Honorary Boulevard.

Columbia cannot officially change the name because Richland County already has a Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard - in Hopkins.

"I think the most important thing is what it means to the people of the city of Columbia in the state of South Carolina," Councilman E.W. Cromartie said. "It shows that we, too, are a progressive city and a city that wants to be in a position to visibly show we are a progressive partner ... moving hand-in-hand in the spirit of Dr. King."

Officials will put the plaque at the edge of both the Five Points commercial district and the Martin Luther King neighborhood, home to a park that bears the slain civil rights leader's name.

City officials had planned to designate stretches of Farrow Road and Harden Street as the Martin Luther King Jr. Honorary Boulevard - a plan that would have cost taxpayers $20,000 for four plaques and signs.

But Cromartie and the Martin Luther King committee - which plans the city's event each year for the Martin Luther King holiday - reached out to private donors to pay for the project.

Officials plan to unveil the plaque at a Jan. 18 ceremony. The ceremony coincides with the "Honor the Dream Food Drive,' which last year collected more than 15,000 pounds of food for the Harvest Hope Food Bank.

The state Department of Transportation has designated honorary street names for years.

Broad River Road, where the State Law Enforcement Division is located, also is J.P. Strom Boulevard, named after the former longtime SLED chief.

S.C. 277 also is the I. DeQuincey Newman Memorial Highway, named after the late civil rights leader who was the state's first black state senator since Reconstruction.

And a portion of I-126 also is the Lester Bates Freeway, named after the man who was Columbia's mayor in the 1960s.