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Black Leaders Plan to Drop San Diego Tourism Boycott

November 20, 1987|RALPH FRAMMOLINO | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — Black leaders plan to call off a nationwide boycott on tourism that they initiated after San Diegans voted overwhelmingly to strip the name of Martin Luther King Jr. from a major downtown thoroughfare, sources close to the boycott effort have told The Times.

The announcement--scheduled to be made today in a speech at the Catfish Club by Urban League President Herb L. Cawthorne--is a response to acknowledgements from San Diego business leaders that the black community was deeply hurt by the vote, as well as promises from corporate leaders that they would create a private memorial to the slain civil rights leader, the sources said.

Black leaders had said they would try to persuade groups to cancel convention plans for San Diego as a protest against the vote. As of Thursday, San Diego convention officials said they have yet to have any group cancel its convention plans because of the vote, which reinstated the name of the thoroughfare to Market Street.

'Cannot Be Specific'

Asked Thursday about the end of the boycott, Cawthorne would only hint broadly at the possibility.

"I cannot be specific until tomorrow at the Catfish Club; however I will say that the goal of the . . . boycott was to ensure that the dignity of Dr. King would not be swung through the mud again.

"If there is sufficient confidence that the corporate leaders mean business (about the memorial), and I believe they do, there will be a reciprocal expression of good will from this community," he said.

However, sources who asked not to be identified said Cawthorne would announce the suspension of the boycott while final plans for the private memorial are hammered out between black leaders and the business community.

King's Name Dropped

By a 60% majority, San Diegans voted on Nov. 3 to approve Proposition F, an initiative that stripped King's name from 6 1/2 miles of roadway that starts at the bay front and runs along a predominantly low-income, minority section of the city. The measure reinstated the name of Market Street, which had been the name since 1915.

Black leaders decried the vote and organized a protest march, which drew between 1,000 and 1,500 people. They also said they wanted another memorial chosen for King.

Business leaders took their first official step for the memorial Thursday morning when Greater San Diego Chamber of Commerce board members voted unanimously to establish a committee to raise money and select a site.

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