By Bernie Woodall
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Reuters) – Three streets in Hollywood, Florida named for Confederate generals were changed to Freedom, Hope and Liberty, the city’s commission voted on Wednesday.
The commission voted unanimously to change the names from Forrest, Hood and Lee, named for leader of the Confederate army, Robert E. Lee, and fellow generals Nathan Bedford Forrest and John Bell Hood. Officials did not say when the signs would be switched.
The planned change highlights a persistent debate in the U.S. South over the display of the Confederate battle flag and other symbols of the rebel side who fought for the preservation of slavery in the 1861-1865 Civil War.
Several cities including New Orleans, Dallas, St. Louis, and Lexington, Kentucky, have recently removed or relocated statues and memorials.
Such efforts gained momentum after violence at an Aug. 12 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The violent protests over the planned removal of a statue of Lee renewed the national debate over whether the memorials are symbols of heritage or hate.
In Hollywood, about 20 miles (32 km) north of downtown Miami, the issue led to three protests, two in support of the street name changes, and one against. There were several heated city commission meetings, the most recent in late August when the city voted that the streets would be renamed.
On Wednesday, the new names for the streets were finalized.
In August, people who supported keeping the Confederate street names – which date from the 1920s – said they did not think of Confederate generals but rather their own personal histories as they drove, or resided, on them.
Linda Anderson, who asked in June for the city to change the names, said she was part of an unsuccessful effort to rename them 15 years ago. She lives on the newly named Hope Street.
“It’s good to finally remove those names because they were for slavery,” said Anderson in a phone call with Reuters. “I’ll be glad when the new signs go up.”
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)