City commissioners in Florida have agreed to begin the process of changing the names of streets named for Confederate generals in the heart of an African-American neighborhood. During a contentious three-hour meeting Monday, the Hollywood City Commission voted 5-2 to begin renaming Lee Street, named after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, as Louisville Street; Hood Street, named after Gen. John Bell Hood, as Macon Street; and Forrest Street, named after Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan member Nathan Bedford Forrest, as Savannah Street, the AP reports. "We must do the right thing and we must do it now," Commissioner Debra Case said. The controversy has long brewed: Two years ago, vandals painted over street signs, and a similar call for a name change was ignored 15 years ago. A City Hall clash last month about the name change resulted in the arrest of five people.
Several Broward County officials were at the meeting and urged commissioners to make the change. "It is not right that an African-American mother has to tell her child she lives on a street named after someone that wanted them in chains or dead," said Howard Finkelstein, Broward County's public defender. The commission voted 5-2 to waive the city's policy requiring property owners on all three streets receive mailed ballots and vote on the matter. The debate isn't over, however: Commissioner Traci Callari, who voted against renaming the streets, wants to impose a 10-year moratorium to prevent any other street names from being changed, while the other nay vote, Commissioner Peter Hernandez, wants to change the name of every street to a number throughout the entire city. The Sun Sentinel reports a final vote is expected when the board returns from its summer break on Aug. 30. (Read more Florida stories.)