Why are lawmakers considering renaming Dudley Square?

Why are lawmakers considering renaming Dudley Square?

BOSTON — A major overhaul of a well-known and busy area of Boston could be coming soon.

The city council has approved a plan for voters to decide whether or not to rename Dudley Square, a name that dates back to the 1600's.

Come November, Boston voters will have a ballot question asking them if they agree with renaming Dudley Square to Nubian Square. The vote will be a "yes" or "no" vote, and some residents say they're already voting "yes".

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The historically black commercial area has its name rooted in the history of slavery in Massachusetts, a name people say contrasts with what the area stands for.

"When we learned about the history of the Dudley family and the fact that they had Thomas, who was the governor, and his son Joseph and [that] they were both instrumental in terms of legislation that legalize slavery in Massachusetts, we felt like it made no sense to have that name here in our primary shopping district here for black and brown people," said Sadiki Kambon, Chairman of the Nubian Square Coalition.

From a petition that has already gathered over 2,000 signatures, the city council unanimously approved a petition Wednesday to allow residents to vote on whether to keep the current name or change it to Nubian Square.

Tadele Busho, the owner of a local Ethiopian market, says he already knows he's voting yes on Nov. 5.

However, while many are ready to vote, others have some questions.

"I have heard a couple of business owners raise questions because they have invested in the brand of the business," said Kim Janey, a city councilor.

Kambon says they initially argued over naming the square after historic people.

"We could not reach a consensus, so I went to do research on the Nubian empire which is an African empire from 2000 BC," said Kambon. "By the year 5000 it was the most powerful empire in the world. Whether you are from Haiti or you're from Harvard Street in Dorchester, we are all Nubian people and that's how we reached a consensus on calling it Nubian Square."

The Nubian Square Coalition is actually setting a precedent for the city as there has never been an attempt made before in the history of the city to change the name of an entire commercial shopping district.

The ballot question will be decided on Nov. 5.