As racial tensions made headlines throughout America this summer and gave rise to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, some Hollywood, Florida, streets that are currently named after Confederate generals — Forrest, Hood, and Lee streets — were spray-painted in protest, with someone on social media taking responsibility under the hashtag #BlackOutWhiteSupremacy.
Some groups suggested renaming the streets after abolitionists instead. Sylvie Suri-Perez of the Broward Green Party says her group, along with the African American Diaspora Think Tank of Hollywood and people from the Black Lives Matter movement, has been going door-to-door canvassing the neighborhood over the past week, asking residents to sign a petition to support changing the street names to Sojourner Truth, the first black woman to win a court case against a white slave owner for the return of her son; Frederick Douglass, a former slave who became a leading orator and writer; and Harriett Tubman, an escaped slave who led hundreds of others along the Underground Railroad.
"We've had overwhelming support from the people-of-color community – especially Latino and black residents," Suri-Perez said. "There were a few residents who were not engaged and said they don't want to participate and a couple of white residents who said they'd look further into it, but no real opposition. Residents are really, really liking the idea."
Suri-Perez, an artist and call center employee from Hollywood, said that the streets run from east to west from the beach area to the Oakwood Shopping Plaza, with more affluent homes near A1A and more black-owned homes on the western ends of the streets in a neighborhood called Liberia. There are about 800 houses that would be affected, she says.
Suri-Perez says that her cohorts had met with Mayor Peter Bober in August and that he had said he would speak to the city manager to move the idea forward. Neither Bober nor the city manager replied to request for comment from New Times.
Though some activists had said on social media that the matter would be voted on today, a spokesperson from the city said that there is no such item on the agenda for this week, though concerned citizens were welcome to speak during a citizen comment period at 5 p.m. If it were formalized and brought before the commission for a vote, it would require two readings to pass, she said.