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City commission approves Dudley Square name change

Yawu Miller
Yawu Miller is the former senior editor of the Bay State Banner. He has written for the Banner since 1988.... VIEW BIO
City commission approves Dudley Square name change
The city’s Public Improvement Commission voted last week to change the name of the intersection of Washington and Dudley streets from Dudley Square to Nubian Square. BANNER PHOTO

The City of Boston Public Improvement Commission voted to officially change the name of Dudley Square to Nubian Square, following a nonbinding ballot measure that won a majority of votes in the precincts around the Roxbury business district in the Nov. 5 election.

The ballot measure was the culmination of more than a year of advocacy by activist Sadiki Kambon, an activist with the Nubian Square Coalition, who objected to the Dudley name because of the family’s ties to slavery in 17th century Massachusetts. Gov. Thomas Dudley, a governor of the colony, signed into law legislation that made slavery legal here.

“We feel that it’s a major contradiction to have our primary commercial shopping district named after a slave-advocating family,” Kambon testified before the Public Improvement Commission. “There’s been overwhelming support for the name change in our community.”

Kambon presented the commission with 2,000 signatures he gathered from community members.

The board voted unanimously to rename the intersection of Dudley and Washington streets Dudley Square.

The name Nubian, comes from the upper Nile Valley region of Africa, now Sudan. Kambon said the name pays homage to the Nubian Notion store that the Abdal-Khallaq family ran in Dudley Square for decades.

Kambon’s campaign worked off of active voter lists, targeting likely voters with mailings and door-knocking in the months and weeks before the November election. While some opposed the measure, including Banner Publisher Melvin B. Miller and former state Rep. Byron Rushing, there was no organized campaign against the name change.

Although the ballot measure lost citywide, city officials only considered votes in 16 precincts around Dudley Square in wards 8, 11 and 12, in making their decision. In those precincts, 1,990 residents voted yes, while just 958 voted no. Public Improvement Commission member Christopher Osgood said the vote demonstrated strong support.

Among those testifying on behalf of the name change were Garrison Trotter Neighborhood Association President Louis Elisa, Nation of Islam Minister Rodney Muhammad and mmebers of the Abdal-Khallaq family.

The MBTA bus terminal will continue to use the Dudley name, although Kambon told reporters last week he plans to push for the station’s name to change as well.