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Rick Perry's Niggerhead: Florida locales have racially insensitive names too

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 Texas hunting camp is called "Niggerhead," it's worth noting that the Sunshine State map is still dotted with jaw-droppingly offensive place names reminiscent of its slave-state past.

At least ten 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 such as 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," he says.

Geller's bill didn't pass without controversy. Republicans argued it would be too expensive, he says. 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 some names changed. 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 there's still Negro Jim Scrub in St. Lucie, Negrotown Knoll in Highlands County, Negro Pond in Gilchrist, and Negro Island in Hillsborough.

"They didn't eliminate the racist term," Geller says. "They just diminished it."


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