After a lengthy debate, the city of Hollywood is moving forward with renaming Forrest, Lee and Hood streets, which honor Confederate war heroes.
At Wednesday’s regular commission meeting, Mayor Josh Levy said he was ready to finalize this issue, which has been going on for several years.
"We stand certainly for much better than what those men stood for," Levy said. "We don't have to honor something that's so offensive to all of us."
Now Forrest Street and Drive will be renamed Freedom Street and Freedom Drive. Lee Street is becoming Liberty Street and Hood Street is becoming Hope Street.
Six of the seven commissioners voted to accept the new names for streets, some of which run through Hollywood’s African-American Liberia neighborhood. The seventh commissioner, District Two’s Peter Hernandez, did not attend.
Maria Jackson is a long-time Hollywood resident who attends church in the Liberia neighborhood.
“When you live in a community, you kind of like to see things that reflect your community, the values and the people that are heroes to you,” she said.
Residents and activists have tried to make these changes for more than a decade. The fight led to protests, arrests and a lawsuit this past summer.
Dara Hill came to the meeting as a member of the Take Them Down street sign committee, part of the Black Lives Matter Alliance in Broward County.
“At this point, it should be a done deal,” Hill said. “The names could be better, they could be worse. We’re pleased with what they chose.”
District 4 Commissioner Dick Blattner said the new names won’t fix the hurtful history of racism, but they are a start.
“They’re so self-explanatory — just think about it for a while. You’d say ‘Yeah, it’s it’s healing,’ ” Blattner said before the meeting.
There were two critics of changing the names in the audience. One who lives on Lee street, Sylvia Koutsodontis, said she did not feel the commission recognized how residents of the streets would feel about the change.
Cynthia Baker said she disagreed with the commissioners waiving normal protocol in order to fast-track the renaming.
“To those of you who voted for this, you will be remembered as the Joe McCarthys of your time, succumbing to mob-like pressure to appease a fringe group,” Baker said.
But, as of now, the process to change the streets is underway. Next, the old signs will become scrap metal, and new ones will be made.