Cottonwood Road renamed to South MLK Jr. Boulevard

Local News

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Local community leaders gathering today to change the name of Cottonwood Road to South Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. It’s been two years since some elected officials kicked off efforts to give Cottonwood Road a makeover. Some local leaders say the name change is part of a larger push to bring new life to Southeast Bakersfield. The latest census data says nearly a third of people living in this zip code, 93307, fall below the poverty line.

“This was a black community. This is where we thrived,” said Arleana Waller, Founder of the MLK CommUNITY Initiative. “But we know that historically what has happened over the years is that it’s known for things that I believe have kept investors out of the area. This is an opportunity to bring economic shift to the southeast area that’s much needed.”

The comes less than a year after renovations to Belle Terrace Park, plus MLK Elementary School opened down the street. But that’s not the only part of Southeast Bakersfield that could see changes in the near future.

“Tonight there will be an opportunity for my colleagues and I on the Bakersfield city council to vote to reimagine and redesign the MLK park,” said Eric Arias, City Council Member for Bakersfield Ward One. “Led and shepherded by residents and the families that live right there in the MLK neighborhood.”

Local officials say the new street name may not solve all of Southeast Bakersfield’s problems … but it’s a step forward from a troubled past.

“There are families who need this shift,” said Waller. “If we’re talking about what Dr. Martin Luther King was always about, it was always economic power, economic equality, and economic inclusion.”

You won’t be able to see South MLK Boulevard on Google Maps just yet, but you can already see the new signs along what used to be Cottonwood Road.

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