Nationwide protests in the wake of George Floyd's death have ushered in a period of reckoning for the United States, as the country grapples with its history of slavery and companies and institutions begin to address their ties to structural racism.
In South Florida, two petitions have recently been circulating that seek to change the names of Broward County and the City of Plantation. Proponents of the change say that these titles that harken back to an ugly past.
“It’s basically like racial wallpaper," Kyle Hill, the creator of the Broward petition, told NBC 6. "When you see those names and those symbols and things, it just kind of reminds you every day of the negative racial history that we have here in this country."
Broward County was named after Florida’s 19th Governor, Napoleon Bonaparte Broward. Petitioners say that records show he was a racist segregationist who also drained the Everglades for development.
In 2017, a statue of the former governor was removed from the Broward County Courthouse due to the controversy.
“The next logical step would be to go ahead and rename the county for something that more reflects modern day Broward County, which is really diverse and vibrant,” said Hill.
"My ultimate goal is that the state of Florida and really the country as a whole would adopt a zero tolerance police to racism."
Hill acknowledged that re-branding the entire county would incur logistical challenges, but he said he thinks it is more valuable to change the name rather than leave reminders of a racist past embedded Broward's present and future.
Another petition that is gaining traction is targeted at changing the name of the City of Plantation.
“The word Plantation just no longer serves us as a city,” Dharyl Auguste, who created the petition, told NBC 6. “It’s just an ugly word that stirs up memories and brings people immediately to slavery."
He said he is calling on local non-profits to work with him so that decision-makers will listen, and potentially decide to change the name. He plans on formally presenting his petition to the Plantation City Council.
City Commissioners, as well as the Mayor of Broward County, said they are aware of both petitions and that the topic could be discussed in the future, but nothing has been formally announced.
"I just think it’s time for us to change,” Auguste continued.
“We just need to keep striking these people from the books and stop glorifying them by naming things after them. There’s so many wonderful, beautiful people that have been alive since then that we can easily replace these names with.”