Written by Miami Herald contributor Alexandria Bordas:
In a contentious meeting spanning three hours, the Hollywood City Commission voted Monday night to begin the process of changing the streets named after three Confederate generals that lie in the heart of the city’s African-American neighborhood.
“It’s refreshing to see people rise up to their courage. That’s what leadership is about,’’ said Rev. Michael Anderson, pastor of New Jerusalem First Baptist Church in Hollywood.
The commission voted on two key measures to begin the street-renaming process.
In the first measure, proposed by Commissioner Richard Blattner, the city agreed to waive its policy of conducting a poll of residents affected by the name change. Under Blattner’s plan, the city would vote on whether to change the street names without polling the residents, something it would normally do under its current policy.
Blattner said if the commission takes the poll and the majority of people don’t want the street names changed, but the commission does it anyway, it would look like the commissioners could care less about what their community has to say.
Blattner’s measure passed 5-2 with Vice Mayor Traci Callari and commissioner Peter Hernandez dissenting.
“What message are we sending to the rest of our residents: If you put enough pressure on city hall, then this will happen,’’ said Hernandez, who suggested commissioners vote later to change the streets to numbered streets.
The second measure, proposed by Callari, called for dual-naming the streets for two years so people could get adjusted to Lee, Forrest and Hood streets eventually disappearing from Hollywood. After two years, the street names would be officially changed.
The three streets are named after Confederate generals. Forrest was considered the father of the Ku Klux Klan.