ANNAPOLIS -- A decade ago, Aris T. Allen won his battle in the state legislature to keep a proposed road extension from plowing through and uprooting a black community off Forest Drive.
Yesterday, state officials honored the pioneer who paved the way for improved race relations in the state by naming the 1.2-mile stretch of highway -- completed in April -- Aris T. Allen Boulevard.
"Some people may wonder, why a road?" said Anne Arundel County Executive Robert R. Neall. "He took people from where they were to where they wanted to go. I don't think I'll be able to drive down this boulevard without thinking of Mr. Allen."
The late Dr. Allen's wife, Faye, told the more than 150 people who ventured out in the rain to the middle of Md. 665 that she could not find the words to describe her appreciation.
"I do hope you realize how deeply we have been moved," she said. "I feel that this is fitting and symbolic. . . . Aris was forever on the move, rushing from place to place to help people along the way."
Dr. Allen, 80, who excelled in medicine and politics, took his own life in February 1991 after discovering he had terminal prostate cancer -- just four weeks into the legislative session..
His long list of accomplishments include being the General Assembly's only black Republican, Anne Arundel's first black school board member and former President Ronald Reagan's appointee as medical affairs adviser to the Health Care Financing Administration.
The new road, which cost $15.2 million, was built to relieve traffic congestion on Forest Drive. The four-lane divided highway links Solomons Island Road to Bywater Road and completes Md. 665 from Forest Drive to U.S. 50.
The road was conceived more than 10 years ago, but original plans called for the extension to slice through the middle of a black community, which already had been forced out of downtown Annapolis.
"[Dr. Allen] just didn't want to uproot people again from their homes," said Annapolis Alderman Sam Gilmer, who first met Dr. Allen in the 1940s when he saw him as a patient.
"This highway was his dream."