MLK’s Legacy in Two Simple Maps

In the United States, one way Martin Luther King is remembered is by celebrating his birthday every January. King also factors heavily in many Black History Month programs at elementary schools in February. But in many other ways, the civil rights leader is remembered throughout the year. These two maps follow King’s life and one way his presence is felt within over 150 cities in the United States: with a street bearing his name.

View Martin Luther King, Jr. Timeline in a full screen map

Stanford University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute compiled a chronology of major events, from 1929 (his birth) to 1968 (his death). We’ve pulled out geographic-specific events and included imagery where useful.

You’ll find the Montgomery Bus Boycott, one of King’s earliest political movements. Of course, the March on Washington, where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, is one of several events located in the capital city.

Much of the major events are located in the southern United States, including King’s native Georgia and nearby Alabama. When it comes to the other map, there is also plenty of southern representation. But it’s clear King’s legacy extends beyond one region of the country.

View Streets Named After Martin Luther King in a full screen map

This map contains 169 streets in 165 cities (New York City, Cleveland, and San Diego show up multiple times) all named after Martin Luther King, Jr. From San Francisco to Boston, and many cities in-between, there is at least one representative street in all but 12 states.

North Carolina leads the way with 20 streets named after King. Florida has 15, and Texas 13. Mississippi is the only other state with double digit representation, with 10. King’s home state of Georgia has six. Alabama only has three—Mobile, Scottsboro, and fittingly, Selma.

Since it’s a rarity to add entirely new streets to cities, most of which were changed from previous names. You can click each marker to find the background, derived from Wikipedia. Over a third (56) of these streets are named “Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.” Another 41 cities went with “Drive” instead. Others are “Ways,” “Streets,” “Avenues,” and “Parkways.” There are five “Expressways,” three “Freeways,” and one “Bypass.”

No matter what you call these dedications, it’s a small but fitting tribute to King’s legacy. Explore these BatchGeo maps as an interactive history lesson through a medium you might typically think of for driving directions.