Tilove, who covers race for Newhouse News Service, spent two years traveling across the U.S. locating and chronicling life along the streets, drives, boulevards, and avenues named for Martin Luther King Jr. Tilove and photographer Falco discovered nearly 500 streets named for the slain civil rights leader. Tilove met the residents and patrons of businesses along King in Harlem, Atlanta, Oakland, and Chicago, as well as smaller towns such as Canton, Mississippi; Belle Glade, Florida; and Huntsville and Jasper, Texas. The essays and photographs provide portraits of the lives and aspirations of black Americans along what is often the main street of the black community. The pair was in Belle Glade during the 2000 presidential election; in Chicago for the wake and funeral of poet Gwendolyn Brooks; in Harlem for King's birthday celebration; and in Portland, Oregon, to witness a slowly gentrifying community that has become less and less black over time. A riveting look at the concerns and conditions of black communities throughout the U.S. Vanessa BushCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
But pause on King, begin talking to folks, and the clutter, the noise of the rest of America falls away, and you are transported beyond the sometimes battered facade into a black America that, with astonishing welcome, reveals itself as not only more separate and self-contained than imagined but also more tightly interconnected, more powerfully whole. Many black people have moved beyond the neighborhoods through which King runs (though there are now King streets in new black suburbs), but few live beyond the reach of the sounds, sentiments, and stories rooted on King. These are streets united by struggle and circumstance, by history and happenstance. One King street leads to the next and next and back again.
For many whites, a street sign that says Martin Luther King tells them they are lost. For many blacks, a street sign that says Martin Luther King tells them they are found.
—from Along Martin Luther King