A city council in North Carolina voted Monday to change the name of an annual fair that has had "Dixie" in its title since 1956.
By a 4-2 vote, with one abstention, the Winston-Salem City Council voted to change the name of the Dixie Classic Fair, the Winston-Salem Journal reported.
"I thank the council for making the right choice today," the Rev. Kia Hood-Scott, a member of Union Baptist Church, told the newspaper.
Advocates of the change have called the Dixie reference a reminder of the Old South, slavery and segregation, the Journal reported. Opponents contend the word is a regional identifier that has nothing to do with racism.
Council member John Larson, who voted against the proposal, said Dixie is "not a celebration of slavery," adding that removing the name would not remove it as a regional marker or erase aspects of Southern history.
Council member Dan Beese, who voted for the name change, said the meaning of the name "shapes itself to the experience of the beholder."
"It is widely understood to refer to the American South generally, with all the associations that raises, from hospitality and sweet tea, to Jim Crow and the Confederacy," Beese said, according to the newspaper.
Larson said the issue was one of "symbols rather than substance," the Journal reported.
"We should not confuse a ... Civil War song with a geographical region of the United States," Larson said. "Dixie is a name that is deeply embedded as a unique geographical region ... synonymous with the South."
"Expunging the word Dixie from the masthead of the fair will not remove it from the Southern lexicon, nor will it erase the shameful blot of slavery and the subsequent racism ... that still holds on to this country and the South particularly."
Council member Denise Adams said those opposed to the change do not understand what African-Americans experienced during times when segregation was prevalent.
"You don't understand when we couldn't go downtown because there was a colored part of town and a white part of town," she said. "When it is all said and done, like Martin Luther King said, I got to know that I stood on the right side, on what's right and just."
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