Shakespeare may have had it right when he said, “What’s in a name?” But names are also a way to preserve a legacy and heritage, whether it be a person’s name, a city’s name, or the name of a road.
One historic name, however, is under attack from liberals and other progressives who are seeking to overwrite history simply by changing the name of a historic highway in Riviera Beach, Florida.
Old Dixie Highway is officially being renamed as the “President Barack Obama Highway.” The change comes after city officials determined that the old name carried too much racial baggage. They hope that the change will erase all of that.
“(The street is) symbolic of racism, symbolic of the clan, symbolic of cross burnings and today we are stepping up to a new day, a new era,” said the mayor of Riviera Beach.
While some of Riviera Beach’s citizens are overjoyed with the name change, it’s obviously a PR stunt instead of something designed to actually bring the city together. The street was the sight of some crosses being burnt in association with the Ku Klux Klan, and it’s obvious that any city would want to distance itself from that terrible past.
But to rename the street, almost arbitrarily, after President Obama seems ridiculous. There is no evidence that President Obama has had any special relationship with Riviera Beach, and, aside from a publicity event that will feature Martin Luther King Jr.’s son shaking hands with President Obama, it’s not a true sign of any advancement in racial equality and justice.
It’s time that people stopped trying to use publicity events like this to mend racial divide and foster unity. A real sense of community only comes from a unified purpose and a combined desire to improve a situation or place. Renaming a street after one of the worst presidents in American history is not going to fix anything.