Change gon' come, indeed.
The Hollywood City Commission has stepped into the 21st century and voted on renaming a group of streets named after Confederate generals, all of which are located in the heart of a predominately African American neighborhood the Associated Press reports.
The streets are currently named Lee Street (after Robert E. Lee), Hood Street (after John Bell Hood) and Forrest Street (after Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan member Nathan Bedford Forrest).
The decision didn’t come easily. It was the result of a contentious three-hour meeting.
In the end, with a 5-2 vote, those for the name change were victorious. A final vote is expected to occur at the end of August according to the SunSentinel. This initial vote waived the city’s existing policy that required property owners living on the streets in question to vote on the matter via mail-in ballot.
"It is time to change the names and the time is now," Commissioner Debra Case stated during the meeting. "We must do the right thing and we must do it now."
There are already new names in the works, with plans to replace Forrest Street with Savannah Street, Hood with Macon and Lee with Louisville.
Emotions were high, and understandably so. At a city hall meeting last year in which changing the streets' names was discussed, a fight broke out.
And, a few years ago, there was a stir when someone painted over the three signs after a similar measure failed to gain traction.
"It is not right that an African American mother has to tell her child she lives on a street named after someone that wanted them in chains or dead," said Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein.
Although many celebrated the move, not everyone was happy.
"We have streets named for slave-owning presidents: Washington, Jefferson, Madison. Activists have said those streets are next,” said Hollywood resident Cynthia Baker after asking commissioners where they would draw the line.
The two dissenting member of the commission pledged to continue fighting this and similar name changes. Commissioner Traci Callari has plans to introduce a rule that would impose a 10-year moratorium on the renaming of any other streets.
And Commissioner Peter Hernandez, also against this street renaming, would rather change all street names to a number throughout Hollywood City, saying that he felt this name change was an "inconvenience" and that everyone should therefore be "inconvenienced."
So, although the city is making strides in this conflict, it looks like this fight is long from over. We’ll see what happens!