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The Planning and Zoning Commission on Sept. 25, 2001, voted 5 to 4 to approve the name change, then reconsidered its vote and defeated it by a second, 7-to-2 vote.
5) In February 2002, the Black Leadership Roundtable of High Point
, of which Sims is a member, proposed naming College Drive from Eastchester Drive to Surrett Drive for King. Sims said, "Then, the buzz saw kicked in." The Planning and Zoning Commission killed the proposal by an unspecified vote on April 23, 2002.
That's where the issue stood until this year, when Sims made it one of her first initiatives as mayor. If Sims gets a street renamed for King, it will be an honor long ago granted by many other cities in the United States. But it will also be proof by Sims that she can put together a voting majority – and on an issue that still has opposition in High Point
. If Sims fails, she will lose political capital.
Sims' chances are probably better if she picks a recently named street, or one without historical resonance, to rename. That's where the current research on the history of High Point
street names comes in.
Larry Cates, a librarian at the Heritage Research Center at the High Point
Public Library, has been researching the history of Kivett Drive since Sims' Jan. 10 proposal.
Cates wrote Vierling on Jan. 11 that William Larkin Kivett was killed in a dynamite explosion in 1915 and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery.
Cates wrote, "I suspect this is the gentleman referred to in the controversy, since the first appearance of the street name is in the 1924 directory."
On Jan. 14, Cates wrote Vierling that the Kivett farm was across the road from, and slightly east of the current Hickory Chapel Wesleyan Church, near where Kivett Drive runs into Hickory Chapel Road. He said that, at the time of William Larkin Kivett's death, the road was referred to as Freeman Mill-High Point
Road. Cates wrote, "It was probably called Kivett in High Point
to begin with simply because it led to the Kivett farm."
That's exactly what the 1992 letter from Marvin Kivett Jr. disputed. That letter said Kivett Drive was named for the family, not the farm, and listed the work and civic accomplishments of numerous members of the family.
In fact, if Kivett Drive was not named until 1924, it is unlikely that it was named for the farm alone. The children of William Larkin Kivett sold the farm to the Amos family for $11,560 in 1923.
The High Point
Enterprise reported the death by dynamite of William Larkin Kivett on Oct. 16, 1915. It was a great tragedy, and a great newspaper lead.
The paper reported, "The accidental explosion of a quantity of dynamite this morning hurled the souls of W. L. Kivett and his 10-year-old son, Byrne Kivett, into eternity, and scattered their mortal remains over 75 yards of ground, marking one of the most horrible affairs in the history of the High Point
The history of Centennial Drive has also come into question during the long hunt for a street to name after King. According to Robbins, the name is on city maps dating back to 1910, and the street may have been named at the time of the US Centennial in 1876.
Sims said that High Point
needs to find a street to name for King, and it needs to be a major one. She said that King's legacy is not merely to black people, given his Nobel Peace Prize, his opposition to the Vietnam War and his support of economic justice.
"When you look at streets across the country, and around the world, everywhere where you see a street or facility named after Dr. King, it's always a facility of prominence," she said. "It's one that basically acknowledges who he is and who he was. When you start looking at streets, the streets need to be of prominence. And they don't need to be relegated to the African-American community, because Dr. King's struggle and inroads he made for civil rights were not just for African Americans."