The Black Lives Matter movement has sparked protests around the world against systemic racism. It is also sparking fresh discussion about the use of the word “plantation.”
There are a number of communities in our area that include the word in their names, including Julington Creek Plantation, Amelia Island Plantation, Oakleaf Plantation, and Fleming Island Plantation.
Developers first started using the term for these large planned communities several decades ago to convey what they believed to be Southern elegance and charm, but the term is offensive to many, because many plantations used slave labor before African Americans were eventually freed following the Civil War.
Last night, the Community Development District for Fleming Island Plantation heard virtually from residents who have proposed removing the word “plantation” from the community’s name.
Brandye Mackey, an African American business owner who lives in Fleming Island Plantation was one of them.
On Wednesday, she appeared on First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross and shared that the district voted not to discuss it in more detail.
"It was really disheartening to hear the way that they handled it," Mackey said. Mackey unsuccessfully sued FIP in 2018 in relation to her former operation of "Mackey's Munchies" at the FIP Amenity Center Splash Park, accusing the entity of race-based discrimination in contracting and tortious interference.
"There are a lot of residents that are for the name change. So it just blows my mind the ways of denial that people out here have. They say if you don't like the word 'plantation' just move."
“They were on this call, and I stayed on it until midnight last night, from six o'clock to midnight, so six hours,” she said. “And the consensus was, ‘we're not going to talk about it’ even before it started. So, you know, to me, that is that kind of mindset that this is slavery, you know, you can talk about it but we're not going to do anything about it. We're not going to listen, this is the way it's going to be."
As the Black Lives Matter movement has gained steam across the country, residents have started petitioning to drop the word "plantation" from community names.
Prior to the Fleming Island Plantation meeting, the topic had sparked a heated discussion on social media, portions of which have since been removed. According to an email sent to WJCT News from a Fleming Island Plantation resident who wishes to remain anonymous, commentators against the name change cited reasons such as the potential cost, and concerns about erasing history.
Mackey said she wishes more of her neighbors understood the history of plantations, and why the term is painful for communities of color.
"If you know about the history, you can talk about your history, then change doesn't seem so hard. And people say, how much is it gonna cost to change the name? Well, let's talk about the cost that it was for folks to build this plantation."
- WJCT's Heather Schatz contributed to this report.
Melissa Ross can be reached at email@example.com, 904-358-6382 or on Twitter at @MelissainJax.