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City to consider renaming commercial center ‘Nubian Square’

December 15, 2019 GMT

BOSTON (AP) — Boston officials are expected to consider renaming the square in a historically black neighborhood to Nubian Square.

Sadiki Kambon, chair of Nubian Square Coalition, says his group’s proposal is expected to go before the Public Improvement Commission on Thursday.

Democratic Mayor Marty Walsh supports the effort. A citywide ballot referendum on the idea failed in November, but the vote tally showed that residents in the Roxbury neighborhood, where the name change is being proposed, overwhelmingly favored it.

Supporters say the commercial center should be renamed because Roxbury resident Thomas Dudley was a leading politician when Massachusetts legally sanctioned slavery in the 1600s.

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But opponents counter that slavery was also part of the ancient Nubian empire, which ruled over swaths of modern-day Egypt and Sudan thousands of years ago.

Roxbury is the neighborhood where a young Martin Luther King, Jr. preached and Malcolm X grew up. It remains a center of the state’s African American community.

Boston has debated a number of name changes in recent years.

Last year, the Red Sox successfully petitioned to change the name of a street near Fenway Park that honored a former team owner who had resisted integration.

Other groups have also been calling to rename Faneuil Hall, a downtown landmark built by a wealthy 18th-century slave owner.