Riviera Beach renamed Old Dixie Highway in honor of President Barack Obama during a ceremony on Thursday, a change that city officials say will help move the community past its segregated history.
It is the second road in Palm Beach County to be named in honor of the 44th president, county officials said. Two years ago, Pahokee in western Palm Beach County renamed East First Street to Barack Obama Boulevard.
A crowd cheered as a crew lowered the Old Dixie Highway street sign in Riviera Beach and raised one bearing the sitting president’s name: President Barack Obama Highway.
“We are stepping up to a new day, a new era, and replacing Old Dixie with Barack Obama, who represents change,” Riviera Beach Mayor Thomas Masters said.
Some speakers at that August Council meeting didn’t think the street name Old Dixie was a good representation of the city.
“The name Old Dixie does not align in any way with the goal of racial and social equality,” Kendra Williams, a Riviera Beach resident, said during the meeting. “Let’s just move forward and move on, because it’s time.”
Other thoroughfares elsewhere have been recently named in honor of presidents, said Sean MacDonald, addressing technician for Palm Beach County.
In 1998, the Florida Legislature designated the Florida Turnpike the Ronald Reagan Turnpike.
Delray Beach renamed Northeast Eighth Street in honor of George H.W. Bush during the early 1990s.