Lemon City is much more than just a name

Miami Times Editorial Department | 11/7/2013, 9 a.m.

There has been an ongoing battle over the historic area of Lemon City and whether its name should be changed to reflect a much different community than when it was established over a century ago. As the name change argument has waxed and waned between African Americans and Haitians, the conversations have sometimes become bitter and accusatory. Until now, we have said very little but with letters being distributed, protests being led and even city commissioners being drawn into the fire, we realize that we have remained silent for too long.

First, we would urge both ethnic groups — who when all is said and done are both ‘Black’ — to work a little harder at co-existing, working together and seeking common ground over this challenge. However, we are not in support of changing the name of Lemon City to Little Haiti just because more Haitian emigres are now living in that section of Miami.

The community of Black, railroad workers that became Lemon City citizens performed some of the hardest physical labor in South Florida. At the same time they shared their Bahamian knowledge of masonry and farming to transform an entire community for the better. To change the name is to suggest that their history, their sacrifices and their memory are no longer as important as the community that exists today.

Of course we recognize the challenges that Haitians faced when first coming to South Florida and we applaud their achievements. But we disagree with moving street signs or changing names to accommodate an expanding Haitian community — not at the expense of a century of Black history.