BOSTON (AP) — An effort to rename the square in a historically black Boston neighborhood to Nubian Square isn't dead, despite the failure of a citywide referendum.
Democratic Mayor Marty Walsh said Wednesday that voters in the Roxbury neighborhood, where the name change is being proposed, overwhelmingly approved the proposal to rename Dudley Square in Tuesday's election.
His office said 1,986 Roxbury residents voted in favor of the non-binding referendum to 957 against. The ballot question failed citywide, with 46% in favor and 54% against.
Because of the strong support in Roxbury, Walsh said his office will be meeting with name change advocates to discuss next steps.
"I am proud of the community for their continued advocacy on this issue," he said in a statement to The Associated Press.
Walsh said among the next steps is having the Nubian Square Coalition officially petition the city's Public Improvement Commission for the name change.
Supporters argue the commercial center should be renamed because Roxbury resident Thomas Dudley was a leading politician when Massachusetts legally sanctioned slavery in the 1600s.
But opponents counter that slavery was also part of the ancient Nubian empire, which ruled over swaths of modern-day Egypt and Sudan thousands of years ago.
Roxbury is the neighborhood where a young Martin Luther King, Jr. preached and Malcolm X grew up.
It remains a center of the state's African American community. More than 50% of its roughly 60,000 residents are black, according to census data.
Boston has debated a number of name changes in recent years as the city reconciles with its slavery ties and racist past.
Last year, the Red Sox successfully petitioned to change the name of Yawkey Way near Fenway Park back to the original Jersey Street.
Under longtime team owner Tom Yawkey, the Red Sox were the last Major League Baseball franchise to integrate.
Other groups have also been calling for years for the city to rename Faneuil Hall , downtown landmark built by Peter Faneuil, a wealthy 18th-century slave owner.
They've suggested the famous hall — where leading colonists debated independence from England — after Crispus Attucks, a black man killed during the Boston Massacre.
Attucks is considered the first casualty of the American Revolution.