One highway in Florida won’t be keeping its name anymore after a county put on a vote and decided to change the name of a number of “Dixie” highways to “Harriet Tubman Highway.
According to reports, commissioners on Miami-Dade County unanimously approved plans Wednesday to change the name of portions of The Dixie Highway, which stretches 5,786 miles through 10 states from Michigan to Miami.
As Miami-Dade District 9 Commissioner Dennis Moss quotes Martin Luther King, Jr, in an interview, he said: “The time is always right to do what is right.”
Moss is the one who started the petition to rename the highway after Tubman, a famous African American abolitionist.
Based on your perspective, the word ‘Dixie’ gives a different meaning for different people. Usually, it’s associated with the old South and Confederate states. In addition, Dixie was also considered the land south of the Mason-Dixon line where slavery was legal.
Moss began looking into the name change after coming across a letter from a man named Modesto Abety, former CEO of the Children’s Trust in Miami-Dade County.
Moss told reporters that Abety’s granddaughter questioned him why ‘Dixie’ was still on the name of the roadways despite its association with slavery.
He said in an interview:
“I moved forward with legislation and of course I did it because Dixie is associated with the southern Confederate states.”
Moss even said that injustice has been hiding in plain sight for years now, but he’s indeed grateful and proud that his coworkers understand how important is the name change and what the term ‘Dixie’ has stood for in the past.
He also shared that the decision to change the name of Dixie Highway and rename it after Tubman came as a suggestion from Abety’s granddaughter.
“She was the antithesis of slavery.”
“I thought that suggestion was a good suggestion.”
Now, It’s important to Moss to not only remove the Dixie name from roadways that Miami-Dade County controls but to urge the state of Florida to remove it from roadways in which it has jurisdiction.
While changing its name was approved by Miami-Dade County commissioners, it’s now up to each state to take action on other parts of the highway. State lawmakers will need to go through their own approval process for the areas each state owns.
To Moss’ surprise, the support hasn’t been entirely unanimous and there’s been little opposition.
It still remains unclear just how much the renaming process will cost the county, but he and his coworkers are prepared to do whatever it takes to see that names are changed once and for all.
Moss said in his statement:
“If this was an Adolf Hitler Highway, or if this was in our community, a Fidel Castro Highway, [the money] wouldn’t even be a consideration as it relates to changing the signs.”
“So let’s not allow that to be an impediment and let’s do what’s right.”