So, Is This Racism ?

     It seems so to me.

     At the last Fort Lauderdale City Commission meeting, Sistrunk Boulevard, the Main Street of the historically black community in the center of Fort Lauderdale, was again the topic of discussion.

                                           
                                                         Dubose

     Commissioner for the area, Bobby Dubose,  tried for a second time to extend the street name –Sistrunk- from its’ current terminus on the west side of the RR tracks, a few more blocks down to Federal Highway.

    [ As late as the 1960’s, blacks in Fort Lauderdale had to stay on the west side of the tracks after dark, were not allowed to swim in the ocean with whites, and had no say in the City Government.]

                                

                                             
     Now, you might remember that at the end of the Sistrunk road improvement project a few years back, the road contractor mistakenly installed the Sistrunk name on street signs all the way down to Federal, instead of stopping the name a few blocks short – on the west side of the RR tracks. Opposition was swift and the contractor had to remove the signs like this one.

                                              

                                            
     At the time, the opposition was led by Charlie King, (a Victoria Park resident and City Commission gadfly), and some local neighborhood leaders also piled on and cried foul at the renaming.

      King is  known for his outlandish statements like

      “I always thought Confederate Highway instead of Federal Highway had a nice ring to it”,

      and “from my point of view, Sistrunk is probably the scariest street in Broward County, and

      Sistrunk is “choked with drunken criminals and hooligans, and

      “people associate it (Sistrunk) with drugs, murder, and prostitution“.

                                               
                                                      King

      At last Tuesday’s meeting, King had a little help on his mission to stop the street renaming from, surprisingly, Commissioner Dean Trantalis.

     Trantalis is known for his work on human rights! 

                                        

     Trantalis was apprehensive. He said renaming the road Sistrunk, to Federal,  “was a touchy subject”.

     Mayor Seiler countered “it’s a touchy subject on the other side too!”.  Trantalis then offered another idea – why don’t we name it “Alcee Hastings Street”. That fell flat.

     Seiler said naming the road Sistrunk was the “right thing to do”. and the other Commissioners agreed.. Seiler added that Dr. James Sistrunk had delivered 6000 children in the community before hospitals were segregated in the 60’s. He said that Sistrunk was “a prominent individual, that deserved to be recognized”. He added that the NE 6th Street name could also be displayed on the sign…

     Trantalis asked for time to talk to the neighborhoods in the vicinity to try and get their buy-in. Chances are he won’t get Kings’!

                                              Stay Tuned …. Tim

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