HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – A Florida city commission voted Wednesday to strip the names of Robert E. Lee and two other Confederate generals from the suburb’s streets, the latest in a recent spate of skirmishes over whether those who led the Southern army should still be honored 152 years after the Civil War ended.
The Hollywood City Commission voted 5 to 1 to remove the names of Lee, Nathan Bedford Forrest and John Bell Hood from residential streets that hopscotch through the Fort Lauderdale suburb. More than 200 supporters and opponents of the change packed the commission chamber and the adjoining lobby, with most of the approximately 100 speakers generally spirited but polite.
Mayor Josh Levy, who voted for the change, said he hoped it would bring the community together by showing a “spirit of companionship” that recognizes that many black residents were offended by these names.
“These streets are symbols of men whose deeds symbolized oppression and bigotry against a whole group of people,” Levy said. Five of the commission’s six white members voted for the change.
The one Hispanic, Peter Hernandez, walked out of the meeting before the vote in protest over procedure. Before he left, he said he opposed the change because he says the commission had not followed its rules and he thought there would be a push to change other street names. Hernandez, a Democrat, also said the change was “a Democratic national agenda that is being pushed upon us.”
The commission will vote to rename the streets at a later meeting. The members indicated they will likely rename Forrest Street for Frankie Mae Shivers, a black, female city police officer who was shot to death in 1982.
The change was supported by the city’s Chamber of Commerce and by more than half of the meeting’s speakers.