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At the Tuesday, May 25th, City Commission meeting, the Coral Gables Commission will once again take up a resolution to rename US1, also known as Dixie Highway, as Harriet Tubman Highway.
The measure first came before the Commission at the January 26th Commission meeting and was voted down by a 2-3 vote. The new resolution is being sponsored by Mayor Vince Lago and Commissioner Rhonda Anderson.
As stated in the City’s cover memo for the resolution, “On February 19, 2020, the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners adopted Resolution No. R-168-20, designating the portions of Old Dixie Highway and West Dixie Highway that encompass Miami-Dade County roadways, urging the Florida Legislature to rename the portions of the roadway that are state-controlled, and urging municipalities, including the City of Coral Gables, to join in the designation of the portions of U.S. Route 1 that fall within their boundaries. The portions of West Dixie Highway/State Road 909 and South Dixie Highway/U.S. Route l/State Road 5 that are state roads must be renamed by an act of the Florida Legislature. However, state roads can also receive an honorary designation by following the process set forth in Section 334.071, Florida Statutes. An honorary designation of a state road is contingent upon the appropriate city or county commission passing a resolution in support of the particular honorary designation. If a road is located in more than one city or county (as is the present case), resolutions supporting the designation must be passed by each affected local government prior to the erection of signage. As of January 14, 2021, nine out of ten of the municipalities affected by the County’s resolution passed resolutions in support of the Harriet Tubman designation, including Florida City, the Town of Cutler Bay, the City of Miami, the City of South Miami, the City of North Miami, the Village of Pinecrest, the City if North Miami Beach, the Village of Palmetto Bay, and the City of Homestead.”
The memo continues: “Under its present moniker, Dixie represents a troubling time in our nation’ s past, marred by the inhumane celebration and unconscionable profit of the perils of racism, segregation, and the atrocities of slavery. It is unquestionable that “Dixie’ s” toxic history runs deeply through the veins of this country, as its racist roots date back to the 19th century and the deplorable comedic movement of blackface minstrels and would become the rallying cry and unofficial anthem of the Confederacy during the Civil War as they fought to uphold the institution of slavery.It is only fitting that Dixie’s current nomenclature be replaced by the matchless legacy of a warrior whose heroic and selfless fight for freedom and justice served Miami-Dade County, the state of Florida, the nation, and has undoubtedly had a significant impact on the City of Coral Gables.”
Tubman was an abolitionist who fought to ensure others found their way to freedom from slavery. Born enslaved in the 19th century Maryland, she was determined to find freedom and end slavery for all. Tubman created the underground railroad, a network of abolitionist homes used to house slaves on their way to freedom. Her plight for change did not stop at ending slavery, Tubman worked as a nurse during the Civil war and lead an armed assault for the Union. She was also a women’s suffragist, fighting to ensure women received the right to vote.
“In recognition of her immeasurable contributions to the fabric of this nation, the City Commission would like to honor the memory, legacy, and tenacity of Ms. Harriet Ross Tubman, who died on March 10, 1913, as well as take a stance on the necessary eradication of the lingering markers within our county and state which continue to celebrate a painful history of slavery and systemic racism, including Old Dixie Highway, West Dixie Highway, and South Dixie Highway,” concludes the memo.