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What do we Know About Crime on the streets named after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?

Updated: Jan 15, 2019



What do we Know About Crime on the streets named after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?

Written by: Dr. Lincoln Sloas




To date, there are over 900 streets in America named after the civil rights advocate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Since January is the month of Dr. King’s birth, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what crime looks like on the streets named after Dr. King in America.


Although no comprehensive data exists to show how crime is distributed across all streets named after Dr. King in America, some researchers have demonstrated a more general depiction of it. For example, Derek Alderman, a geographer at the University of Tennessee has noted several patterns that exist on streets named after Dr. King in America.


First, Alderman discusses how housing prices have gone down in areas with streets named after Dr. King. For example, between 2010 and 2011 the housing value decreased by 12.5% whereas the national average was 4.7%. Second, Alderman discusses that not although all streets named after Dr. King are plagued with crime…many of them are. For instance, Alderman says that many black individuals live along streets named after Dr. King and experience crime and poverty in these areas. Although Alderman does not provide specific data, he does state that many of the streets named after Dr. King are located in the south.



Empirically, the south tends to high higher rates of crime than other regions of the country. The FBI notes that for every 100,000 residents there are 418.3 violent crimes reported (i.e., murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault). This is slightly higher than other regions of the country, including the west (397.4), Midwest (356.3), and northeast (320.6). The first figure below shows the streets in America named after Dr. King. Notice how many are located in the south. Although we cannot say how much crime takes place on each street, we can say that crime does concentrate over time and is not randomly distributed across time and space. The second figure is a map of reported violent crime for year 2016.







Lincoln B. Sloas, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida Atlantic University. His research interests include community corrections with an emphasis on how individuals navigate substance use treatment services and problem-solving courts.

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