Miami-Dade commission to rename Dixie Highway

Commissioner wants Dixie Highway to be named after famed abolitionist

There is a nationwide movement to rename the 5,786 mile-long Dixie Highway, which crosses 10 states from Sault Sainte Marie in Michigan to Miami, along Biscayne Bay.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – There is a movement to rename an area of the 5,786 mile-long Dixie Highway, which crosses 10 states from Sault Sainte Marie in Michigan to Miami, along Biscayne Bay.

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Dennis Moss stands with that effort. He wants to rename the portion of the highway that crosses 7 of 13 Miami-Dade districts after Harriet Tubman, a famed abolitionist.

“If there was a Fidel Castro highway, would we say to the Cuban community ‘Get over it!’?” said Moss, who represents District 9. "The answer would not just be ‘No!’ The answer would be “Hell no!”

Moss has enough support to make the change happen. Miami-Dade isn’t the first in South Florida to push for the removal of tributes to the Confederacy.

In Palm Beach County, Riviera Beach changed the name in 2015. And in Broward County, Hallandale Beach unanimously passed a resolution asking the Broward County Commission to change the highway’s name.

“This isn’t about erasing history,” Vice Mayor Sabrína Javellena said. “It’s about creating more positive images.”

In 2017, Broward’s city of Hollywood changed the names of streets named after Robert E. Lee, the commander of the Confederate States Army, and two other Confederate generals.

ON THE WEB: The New York Times Editorial

Historic facts for context

1. In 1767, Jeremiah Dixon, an English surveyor, helped to craft a boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland that later became known as the Mason-Dixon Line between the southern slave states and the free states to the north.

2. Tubman, who was born into slavery in Maryland, escaped in 1849 and crossed the Mason-Dixon Line to become a brave Underground Railroad conductor. She moved to Canada after the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 forced the return of fugitive slaves.

3. The seven states that supported the institution of slavery -- South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia and Florida -- established the Confederate States of America in 1861.

4. When President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, Tubman was volunteering for the Union Army in South Carolina to plan a raid to rescue slaves from rice plantations.

5. In 1863, Tubman became the first woman to lead an armed expedition during the Civil War’s Combahee River Raid.

6. Tubman died about two years before the National Highways Association issued a map of the Dixie Highway Association’s proposal to build a road that ran from Mackinaw City, Michigan, to Miami.

Florida Memory (Florida Memory)

7. To promote the highway, Carl Graham Fisher, a Miami Beach developer and Indianapolis Motor Speedway investor, led the 1915 Dixie Highway Pathfinders, a 15 car cavalcade from Chicago to Miami.

8. For the politicians who supported the racial segregation laws that were firmly established throughout the South, naming the highway after the popular song that became the de facto anthem of the Confederacy during the Civil War wasn’t controversial.

9. Florida’s commissioners to the Dixie Highway Association were George W. Saxon, a banker from Tallahassee, and Samuel A. Blecher, a road construction magnate from Miami, according to Florida Memory.

10. President Woodrow Wilson supported the idea through the Federal Aid Road Act of 1916, but World War I stalled the idea.

11. After the height of the 1924-25 Florida land boom, the Dixie Highway Association stopped publishing its Dixie Highway magazine in 1926.

About the Authors:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba.