The Broward School Board is considering whether to change the names of several schools that could be viewed as racist, including five that are named after the city of Plantation.
A discussion, scheduled for a workshop at 10 a.m. this Tuesday, follows an online petition to change the name of the city of Plantation itself.
The name derives from the Everglades Plantation Co., which owned some of the fruit and rice fields where the central Broward city is now situated.
However, some say it also conjures up images of slave plantations.
Officials say the school names could change regardless of whether the city’s name name does.
Five district schools contain the city’s name. They are: Plantation High, South Plantation High, Plantation Middle, Plantation Elementary and Plantation Park Elementary.
School Board member Rosalind Osgood, who requested the discussion, said that while Plantation is the focus, she is also open to reviewing any school names that have “any racial undertones or any type of connotation that causes hurt for a group of people.”
That could incorporate a discussion on whether to change schools’ names with Broward in them.
The county was named after Napoleon Bonaparte Broward, who served as Florida’s governor in the early 1900s.
He was known for draining the Everglades, although Osgood described him as “the racist governor” due to his segregationist views.
A statue of Broward was removed from the county courthouse three years ago.
Efforts to change the name of the city of Plantation have gained support in light of protests against racial injustice following the May police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Juneteenth and Emancipation Day in Floridahttps://t.co/8Nk3T1vJIs
— City of Plantation (@PlantationFLA) June 19, 2020
More than 10,000 people have signed the online petitions.
Osgood says the strict district does not have to wait for the city to take action, or to hold public discussions about a potential name change.
“We have to lead by example,” she explains. “We can’t march and protest and say we publicly oppose racism and not address policies” that allow racially offensive school names to exist, she said.
School Board Chairwoman Donna Korn agrees that the school district’s action can be separate from anything the city of Plantation does.
“Every city doesn’t necessarily have a school named after it,” according to Korn. “Regardless of what the city does, we can determine what our community is looking for when it comes to naming schools.”
Plantation Mayor Lynn Stoner says the issue of changing the city’s name was mentioned in a recent online town hall, but she has not received a formal petition to change the name.
Such a change would need to go before voters in a referendum, and the earliest that could happen would be 2022.
Stoner adds that she has received several emails on the subject, and they are running about 10 to 1 against changing the city’s name.
Those opposed to the change are telling her the city was named for a company, not a slave plantation.
“People see it as a community. They don’t even remotely have that suggestion that it means something different,” she says.
The city was formed in 1953, “well after that time” of the old Confederacy, according to the mayor, “But whoever submits a proposal, we’ll be happy to review it and submit to the council for open discussion with the public.”
As for changing school names, “no one at the school district has called me or expressed their concern or asked what I think,” Stoner claims.