Commissioner Dean Trantalis doesn’t think the City should add the name Sistrunk Boulevard to NE 6th Street signs – from Sistrunks’ current terminus at Andrews Avenue- down a few blocks east to Federal Highway – but he is just plain wrong !
The controversy to further the Sistrunk name a few more blocks east has played out over the last few months. A final decision is expected soon.
Dr. Sistrunk was the areas’ Doctor, as black people were not allowed to be treated at Broward General Hospital. The Sistrunk name is revered in that community.
The final renaming would complete the multi-million dollar street project that enhanced the deteriorating boulevard in the Citys’ poorest area. The road project went from Federal Highway out to the City limits.
Sistrunk Boulevard is the heart of the “black district”, where blacks make up about 95% of the population. It has remained this way since Fort Lauderdale laws in the past kept blacks west of the RR tracks at night, and forbid them to swim in the ocean where the white people swam.
Trantalis says that “when he mentions the name” [Sistrunk}, to people around the city, "they cringe". He says that the Sistrunk name has to "earn" enough respect to traverse through the Flagler Village neighborhood he represents. He says his constituents worry about property values dropping if the Sistrunk name is added ( they won't).
Trantalis also says that "statistics show that the [Sistrunk area] is riddled with crime”, but Flagler Village has had 91 Part I Crimes so far this year, and the similarly sized neighborhood of Durrs (off Sistrunk) has had only a few more at 107.
So Trantalis asks “what’s in a name”, in a letter released to the press yesterday, but it appears he has forgotten his own lifetime struggle to be respected, as a gay person.
Trantalis has been the main official demanding respect for the gay and lesbian population in Fort Lauderdale for many years.
Just a few years ago, the Stonewall Library, a collection of gay literature that took the name of a New York bar that had been raided due to its’ gay clientele, was a very controversial issue, when a proposal to place it in a public library building on Sunrise Boulevard was announced. Trantalis and other gay leaders fought that battle and won.
Stonewall Library at Art Serve
So I’m hoping that Trantalis changes his mind and supports the renaming. I hope he finds it in his heart to demand respect for our poorer neighbors living around Sistrunk Boulevard. I hope he sees that bringing the revered Sistrunk name down to Federal Highway will symbolically connect an area that has always been segregated from the rest of the City.
Trantalis said in his letter that “you cannot force love onto others”. but I bet he knows - you can demand respect..