In the summer of 2018 when Ms. Kathryn Harris, the People’s Tribunal treasurer, recommended that we request that the Mayor and City Council rename Forrest Street Barack Obama Boulevard, we never thought that it would be a problem.
The names of streets and highways in California, Illinois, North Georgia and Florida were changed, and there was no fight. The city commissioners and city councils granted the request gladly.
When I stood before Valdosta City Council on May 22, 2019, I was there to only ask why the request had not been voted on. After all, the request had been made in the summer of last year, and we had faithfully followed the instructions in the charter.
After we got the 61 percent of the signatures of the residents as demanded by the charter, we were then told that we needed signatures from the owners of the apartments, but nothing in the charter said that. It only said we needed 61 percent of the residents.
I received a call from the city manager who told me that it really didn’t matter what we did, it was up to the city council. We then asked the mayor and council to just vote on it, and not have us just hanging. They could either vote the request up or down, and leave it to us to respond.
Let me be clear. Forrest Street is currently named for Nathan Bedford Forrest, a founding member of the Klu Klux Klan, a terrorist group, who roamed through the black community and raped our women and lynched our men at will.
It struck fear in our hearts, but we survived, and are still here.
In addition to being America’s first black president, Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, and their two daughters, lived in the White House for eight years. His administration was scandal free, and none of his cabinet members were indicted or jailed.
In addition to being America’s first black president, Barack Obama provided health insurance for all who wanted it, and made it possible for young people to remain on their parents’ insurance until they were 26. He also saved General Motors and Chrysler from bankruptcy, and this country from financial ruin.
When I was escorted out of council chambers by the police at the request of Mayor Gayle, his excuse was that I had exceeded the three minutes that he had, without a vote of the council, arbitrarily set.
He had earlier told me that he had changed the five minutes to three because people were repeating themselves. He could have easily told the violators to stop, and permitted the rest of us to continue. He did not.
Valdosta’s population is 51 percent black. Democracy cannot mean majority rule when the majority is white, and minority rule when the majority is black. All human rights for all human beings must be measured by the same yardstick.
I am 80 years old and I don’t know how much more time I have on this earth, and wherever I am going, I intend to go from Valdosta, and I want my family to say that Floyd Rose was a man of integrity, who could neither be bought nor bossed.
He simply wanted to live so that people who knew him and didn’t know Jesus, wanted to know Jesus because they knew him.
Floyd Rose is senior servant of Serenity Church.