Good Morning, Trinity Family!
Technical issues prevented our LiveStream from working last Sunday, But we don’t want anyone to miss the story of our own Rev. Vanessa Sims, and how the MLK Pedestrian Bridge on the Loop came to be so prominently painted!
From Rev. Sims:
Photo for Denton MLK Jr. Recreation Center
Someone in the City of Parks and Recreation Department authorized the removal of Dr. King’s photo at Denton MLK’ Jr. Recreation Center. For me, this didn’t make sense and was disrespectful. I contacted Councilwoman Charlye Heggins to discuss the matter. After asking many people to donate a professional photo for the Center, Dr. Simon Allo provided agreed to purchase a photo for the Denton MLK Jr. Recreation Center. I then traveled to Dallas and Ft. Worth to find a photo for the Center. On June 19, 2008, the photo was dedicated and hung at the Denton MLK, Jr. Recreation Center. The photo hangs behind the visitor’s desk at the center. On June 19, 2008, I received a Certificate of Appreciation from the City of Denton Parks and Recreation Department for this work.
Painting of Dr. King’s name on the pedestrian bridge
The naming of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Pedestrian Bridge was led by my friend the late Councilwoman Charlye Heggins. She died before the bridge was completed. The bridge opened on May 29, 2013, and was dedicated on June 14, 2013. The 793′ long bridge span crosses 6 lanes of Loop 288 near Colorado Blvd. A bronze plaque was placed at the north entrance of the pedestrian bridge and spans Loop 288 connecting the rail trail. This bronze plaque is located behind businesses (Bed Bath & Beyond) and is hidden from public view. This made no sense to me and I believed it was disrespectful to the late Dr. King and his fight for Social Justice and Civil Rights.
As one recalls, Selma’s Bloody Sunday, (March 7, 1965) approximately 600 civil right marchers (men, women, and children) were assaulted as they marched through downtown Selma. As they marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, (a bridge named after a Confederate general and reputed Grand Dragon of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan). They were knocked to the ground, struck with sticks, whips, rubber tubing wrapped in barbed wire, and tear-gassed. My people were beaten just because they wanted the right to vote. This and other events led Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act, which President Johnson signed into law on August 6, 1965.
In February 2016, as I reflected on the contributions of numerous African’mericans and the continuous fight for voting rights. I wondered why Denton’s bridge didn’t have Dr. King’s name on it. The memories of the beatings of men women and children on Bloody Sunday troubled me. In addition to the memories of Bloody Sunday, memories of the removal of Dr. Kings photo from the Denton MLK Jr. Recreation Center surfaced. Dr. King gave his life fighting for me to have the right to vote. The least I can do is fight for his name to be placed in public view on a bridge named after him.
Consequently, on February 4, 2016, I contacted the City of Denton and Texas Department of Transportation and asked why Dr. Kings name wasn’t placed on the bridge. A city representative informed me that Texas Department of Transportation had denied a request to place a name on the bridge. The Texas Department of Transportation representative informed me that they did not recall receiving a request. I would need to contact the City of Denton and that the City of Denton would have to make a formal request.
I then made a formal request for the City of Denton to place the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s name on the bridge. After six months of e-mails, phone calls, and visitation to the bridge, the City of Denton Parks and Recreation Department began painting Dr. Kings name on the bridge.
In addition to Dr. King’s name being painted on the bridge, I was also able to negotiate a physical address for both sides of the bridge. The physical address of the bridge is 2004 S. and 2005 S. Loop 288. Address signs have been posted on both sides of the bridge.
I was recognized and given a Community Service Award by the Denton Juneteenth Committee for this work.
Rev. Vanessa Sims
Thank you, Rev. Sims, for all you do in both the community and in ministry. We at Trinity are proud to call you family!