Hollywood’s African American Advisory Council (AAAC) recently stood before the commission after having voted in favor of renaming streets named after Confederate Generals Nathan Bedford Forrest, Robert E. Lee and John Hood.
Dr. Mary Mites Campbell argued on behalf of the AARC that these names did not reflect the values of Hollywood residents, and considered them derogatory. Campbell said these names, especially Nathan Bedford Forrest, are associated with immoral acts in American history. Forrest served as the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, but later distanced himself from the organization, according to Sociological Quarterly.
The Council believes the fees attached to changing the streets’ names should be waived to make the changes easier. They also believe that the feelings of people who live on the street should not be factored into the decision. This conflicts with the beliefs of certain members of the Commission, who hold that residents of the streets themselves should have a say in the matter.
Commissioner Linda Sherwood asked, “What if the residents say they are opposed to the street names being changed?”
Surveys among residents on these streets have found that most people don’t want the names on the street signs to be changed. If a street’s name were to be changed, residents would have to have their address changed on titles to their homes, driver’s licenses other important documents. This would cost the city and citizens time and money. The Council argues that the City should be asked to pay for some the expenses associated with the street sign name changes, unfortunate timing as the City faces a nearly $20 million budget gap.
Other Commissioners expressed concerns about the name changes. Vice Mayor Peter Hernandez asked Mites Campbell if Council members simply did not like the fact that the streets were named after Confederate leaders. Hernandez contends that the name changes might be a real problem for residents on the streets.
Mayor Peter Bober said that perhaps the names should be changed but that a number of other presidents honored on street signs had negative feelings toward African Americans as well. He has said that the feelings of residents on those streets should be considered.
During citizens’ comments, Benjamin Israel who has been leading the effort to change the street sign names said that if the people living on those streets really cared about others, they would be willing to undergo the inconvenience associated with changing the street names.
Another man said that while there would be some inconvenience and expense for the residents on those streets, it would little compared to the suffering endured by African Americans over the years.
A number of long-time residents who live on Lee Street said they were pleased with the street sign name and did not want Hollywood to change the name on their street. One woman said that the City should never name another street after someone because in later years, people might have a problem with the individual. Also, people have raised concerns about erasing history, even if that history was unpleasant.