PARKLAND, FL - I (Kyle) started a petition to rename Broward County.
The racial unrest arising from the unjust murders of African Americans around the country, motivated me to consider ways of making a difference in the local community and in the State of Florida as a whole.
I’ve lived in Florida since 2005. In 2017, I was shocked to learn of former Governor Broward’s racist views and segregationist stance through the work of Bill Gelin and others. I’ve also recently learned of the environmental damage that Broward caused through his initiatives to drain the Everglades.
The removal of Broward’s statue from the County Courthouse in 2017 was a good first step.
However, in order to effectively deal with Florida’s troubling history on race and the environment, further change is needed.
Broward County is the second most populous county in Florida and it is also a minority-majority county. Residents deserve a name that they can be proud of, a name that does not conjure feelings of racism or hatred.
Efforts to rename Broward County come as part of a wave of nationwide reckoning with America’s racial past.
NASCAR recently outlawed the confederate flag. Cities have removed statues of confederate leaders like Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis. Congressional leaders have called for military bases to be renamed.
Opponents criticize these efforts as attempts to erase history. However, our goal lies not in history’s erasure, but it’s recontextualization.
How we remember is as important as what we remember. The legacy of the confederacy as a violent insurrection built on the defense of slavery and the doctrine of white supremacy should be remembered and mourned, but it should not be honored.
Instead, we call on the County Commission and State Legislature to honor those who have fought to make real the promises of democracy. People like civil rights activists Eula Johnson and Dr. Von Mizzel deserve this type of honor for the ways that they fought segregation and racial discrimination.
In the wake of the murders of unarmed Blacks across the country, it is clear that a zero-tolerance policy towards racism is the only thing that can bring about lasting change.
The renaming of Broward County will advance the process of acknowledging and disavowing the sins of the past. We seek not to rewrite history, but to submit that racism and segregation do not define Broward County's present and future.
Let's rename Broward County in a manner that honors those that reflect the values and diversity of the county’s modern day residents.
To learn more and sign the petition to rename Broward County, click here.
A similar petition drive is in the works to rename the city of Plantation in Broward County.
Kyle Hill and Dr. Theon E. Hill are brothers who grew up in the Chicago area.
Kyle Hill lived in South Florida from 2012-2013 and again from 2017-2019. He now lives in the Tampa Bay area. He conducts market research in the healthcare industry.
Dr. Theon E. Hill is a professor at Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL.
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