When Governor Nikki Haley - in the wake of the shooting that claimed the lives of nine churchgoers in Charleston - called for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the South Carolina State Capitol, it marked a significant shift.
In one city in the Deep South, the name chosen to replace Old Dixie Highway, as WPTV reports, is a sign of the extent of the cultural changes occurring across the region.
On Thursday, Riviera Beach Mayor Thomas Masters held a ceremony to rename the highway, which is said “will help move the community past its segregated history.”
As Mayor Masters explained:
“We are stepping up to a new day, a new era, and replacing Old Dixie with Barack Obama, who represents change.”
Masters added that the former name was “symbolic of racism, symbolic of the clan, symbolic of cross burnings,” and “served as a reminder that this city was once heavily segregated.”
Residents present at the ceremony spoke very highly of the change as well, some of whom said they have lived in the area for decades, and can remember crosses burning alongside the highway in the past.
With the dedication completed, Riviera Beach also becomes the only city in the United States where streets named Martin Luther King Boulevard and President Barack Obama Highway intersect.