In almost every corner of the world, you’ll find thousands of streets named after Martin Luther King Jr., evidence that his impact and legacy of nonviolent resistance endure.
Among the countries with streets named after King: Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Cyprus, Denmark, Cameroon, France, Germany, Haiti, India, Israel, Madagascar, Mexico, Niger, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Romania, South Africa, Spain, Suriname, Togo and Tanzania, according to OpenStreetMap, a volunteer-created open-source map of the world.
“It really speaks to the global impact that King and his teachings of civil rights were having across the world,” said Derek Alderman, a geography professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
In the United States, King’s birthday is observed as a federal holiday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, on the third Monday of January. King was born on January 15, 1929.
Haarlem, Netherlands, became one of the first cities outside the U.S. to name a street after King, Alderman said. Less than a month after King’s 1968 assassination, city leaders voted to name a lane after him, dubbing it Martin Luther Kinglaan. In Gelderland, Netherlands, streets named after King and Mahatma Gandhi are connected — King was influenced by Gandhi’s teachings and visited India in 1959.
King is famous for using nonviolent tactics, including boycotts and marches, to help secure civil rights for African Americans. The civil rights movement in the U.S. represented a watershed moment, and King’s teachings resonated around the world, Alderman said.
The 1964 Nobel Peace Prize King won for his work burnished his global reputation. Later on in life, King fought for workers’ rights and against poverty.
“There is a larger legacy of history of who King was and what he meant to people,” Alderman said.
This article was written by freelance writer Lenore T. Adkins. A version of this story was previously published on February 14, 2019.