Residents call for Haile Plantation name change

There has been an uproar on social media for the name change of Haile Plantation due to its association with slavery
Residents are requesting the name change of the Haile Plantation in Gainesville.
Published: Jun. 17, 2020 at 10:12 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - A social media post is going viral, pushing to change the name of Haile Plantation. It was put up on Monday and now has hundreds of comments and shares.

Some commenters are saying the word "plantation" carries a painful past and others say it should stay so history is not erased.

“So plantation farms is heavily engrained in the consciousness of people in this county and in places all over the country which is connected to that period of enslavement,” Senior Lecturer Of African American Studies at the University Of Florida Dr. Patricia Hilliard-Nunn said.

She is one of many who say that is why the development's name should be changed.

“That’s problematic, it’s also problematic for certain people who know about the brutality of slavery and planter life and plantation culture” she said.

A TV20 reporter talked to some Haile Plantation residents who agreed with Hilliard-Nunn.

Others told the reporter off-camera, nothing should be changed, similar to comments made on social media like:”It is historic and part of the community. You don’t erase history. You learn and move forward.”

“There is a big distinction between Haile Plantation the development versus the Historic Haile Homestead,” President and Historian of the Historic Haile Homestead, Karen Kirkman said.

She says she is especially concerned because Facebook commenters have threatened to burn down the historic building, that is a non-profit.

“I mean it’s a house museum, you can see where enslaved craftsmen trimmed these beams. Their ax marks are still there, we have pictures, we have stories,” she said.

That building and its associated museum are home to exhibits aiming to educate the community about the slaves who lived on the land.

“We tell the stories, we are the holder of the archives,” Kirkman said.

Kirkman has spent around 20 years researching the Haile Family and the enslaved workers they brought to Alachua County in the mid-1800s.

Kirkman says Alachua County had around 50 plantations during that time. The Haile Family owned five.

More than a century later, in the 1970′s, descendants of the Haile Family ended up selling some of their land to developers who then chose to name the planned real estate development “Haile Plantation”.

TV20 reached out to homeowners associations for Haile about the name change proposals.

A representative for leland management says they "will seek legal counsel to develop a roadmap and identify legal and financial impacts for each property."

No word yet on if that means a name change is being considered.

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