Next time you have a few minutes to burn in Palm City, Florida, why not book a leisurely afternoon at Negrohead Point? No? Perhaps a relaxing drive over Negro Jim Hammock Bridge near Moore Haven would calm your nerves. Then you could hop up to Jefferson County to cool off in Negro Cove, or schedule a hike in Negrolands Marsh near Lake Placid.
As the nation reacts with (understandable) horror to the news that presidential contender Rick Perry's family owned a Texas hunting camp called "Niggerhead," it's worth noting that the Sunshine State map is still dotted with jaw-droppingly offensive odes to its slave-state past.
At least 10 officially recognized places in Florida still have the word "negro" in their name, according to the U.S. Geological Survey's Geographic Names Information System.
That's baffling to advocates like former state Sen. Steve Geller, who passed a bill in 2004 requiring every county to review and change potentially racist names.
"If there's still a Negro Jim Hammock Bridge on the books, obviously we haven't gone far enough," Geller says.
Geller's bill didn't pass without controversy. The Republican-appointed Department of State argued erasing n-bombs from the state surveys would be "too expensive," Geller says, while local leaders claimed history would be lost.
"You had some local guys saying, 'You lootin' liberals in Tally are takin away our history!'" Geller recalls.
Still, the bill passed and USGS records show some names did change.
"Nigger Lake" in Washington County became Chain Lake. "Niggerhead Point" in St. Lucie turned into Fork Point. And "Jap Rock," a monument to Asian farmers near Boca Raton, is now Yamato Rock.
But someone in St. Lucie also must have signed off on Negro Jim Scrub staying on the books, along with such other enlightened places as Negrotown Knoll (in Highlands County), Negro Pond (in Gilchrist) and Negro Island (in Hillsborough).
Geller, for one, would like the counties to revisit those names. "I guess they're trying to keep the historical significance without the outright racial slur," he says. "But they didn't eliminate the racist term, they just diminished it."
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Here's the full list of n-bombing place names on the books in Florida:
- Negro Cut, St. Lucie County
- Negro Jim Scrub, St. Lucie County
- Negrohead Point, St. Lucie County
- Negro Cove, Martin County
- Negro Head, Lee County
- Negro Island, Hillsborough County
- Negrotown Marsh, Highlands County
- Negrotown Knoll, Highlands County
- Negro Jim Hammock Bridge, Hendry County
- Negro Pond, Gilchrist County
- Bonus! Slave Canal, Jefferson County