Posted on January 20, 2020

‘We’ve Got to Change This’: Has Dixie Highway Reached the End of the Road?

DNYUZ, January 20, 2020


Dixie Highway was originally a patchwork of two-lane roads that ran from Michigan to Miami. The idea behind it came from Carl Fisher, an entrepreneur and developer who helped transform Miami Beach into a resort destination. He saw Dixie Highway as a way to bring tourists from the Midwest to sunny Florida in the 1920s.

Today there are multiple stretches that carry the Dixie Highway name in Florida and, as conversations continue to play out about what to do with Confederate monuments, there is a growing interest in changing the name. {snip}

“Dixie Highway was this ambitious project starting in 1915. It was later absorbed into some state and federal systems,” said Tammy Ingram, the author of “Dixie Highway: Road Building and the Making of the Modern South, 1900-1930.” “The name Cotton Belt Route was considered, too, but Dixie was chosen to promote the South.”

Dixie is thought to be a reference to the Mason-Dixon line, although the origins of the term are still debated by historians. The minstrel song of the same name was adopted as a kind anthem of the Confederacy during the Civil War. “By the time of the Civil War, the term Dixie was racialized, and a romanticized reference to the antebellum South,’’ said Ms. Ingram, an associate professor of history at the College of Charleston.


Mr. Abety-Gutierrez, the founding president of the Children’s Trust in Miami, sent an email to the 13 Miami-Dade commissioners. “We’ve got to change this,” he wrote. “I hope you agree.” Four months later, Dennis Moss, a Miami-Dade County commissioner, announced plans to introduce legislation to rename Dixie Highway in the areas where the county has control. Harriet Tubman Highway is one of the new names being considered.

“She is the antithesis of Dixie,” Mr. Moss, a longtime commissioner, told The Miami Herald. The word Dixie, he said, “is something that’s symbolic of our inhumane institution of slavery.”


Inspired by Mr. Moss, the commissioners in Hallandale Beach in neighboring Broward County unanimously approved a resolution in December urging the county, which has jurisdiction over stretches of Dixie Highway, to consider changing the highway’s name.


The post ‘We’ve Got to Change This’: Has Dixie Highway Reached the End of the Road? appeared first on New York Times.