BY Celina DeCastro
Residents of the City of Hollywood are divided over whether to change the names of streets that have been named in honor of Confederate soldiers.
The city recently announced a revision to the rules to rename streets from having two-thirds majority vote down to 50 percent of votes to allow a street name change.
The controversial streets are Lee Street, Forrest Street, and Hood Street.
Named after Robert E Lee and John Bell Hood who were soldiers of the Confederate Army as well as Nathaniel Bedford Forrest, who not only led massacres against union soldiers and slaves but was also one of the key founders of the infamous Ku Klux Klan immediately following the end of the Civil War.
Some of the city’s residents believe that the names are a sordid reminder of the dark past which led to the American civil war, while others have no problem with the naming of the roadways as they see it as part of the city’s history.
Architectural Historian and resident since the 1930’s, George Chillag, feels the names should remain not to glorify the generals but to show how far The United States has come from those dark times in history.
“I can understand why someone would feel uncomfortable with the names,” Chillag said. “But this gives us a reason to walk over to the person who feels differently and talk about how far we’ve come since.”
According to City of Hollywood Commissioner Richard Blattner, the three street names were not the original names, originally these and other streets were named after other minority cities within the United States like “Chicago”, “Macon”, and many others.
The name change came during the 1920’s, after a decision was made to rename the streets from the beach to 56 AVE after Presidents and other military personnel.
These names have come under fire after a 2015 vandalism incident resulted in all three street names being sprayed over with black paint.
Since the incident, several residents including Benjamin Israel, an African-American and Orthodox Jew, has been demanding an immediate change to these street names because they are offensive.
“Nobody wants to live on a street named after Charles Manson,” Israel told the Sun-Sentinel. “Yet a bunch of us are living on a street named after Nathan Bedford Forrest.’’
According to Blattner, the focus of the name change is heavily concentrated on Forrest Street due to the dark deeds of Nathaniel B. Forrest.
In 2005, the Commission board set up a set of rules to be put in place to change a street name in Hollywood. This includes a $2,000 applications fee, a naming committee to pick an alternative name, approval by commission in a 5/7 vote, and the new revised requirement of receiving a 50% vote of ballots entries.
Mail-In ballots to homeowners within those areas have yet to be mailed out, the city staffers are in the process of creating new names to be offered on the ballot and are also considering the option of duel names to those streets.
Quite like Barack Obama Blvd/SW 40th AVE in West Park, Florida that was approved by votes in July 2009.
A set date of mailing out the ballots and result release have yet to be chosen