Hilton Head Plantation — the island’s largest gated community with plantation still in its name — will survey residents in the next month “to gauge the sentiments” of the residents “on a possible name change,” according to an email sent Friday from Hilton Head Plantation Property Owners Association (HHPPOA).
“This survey is not intended to be a final vote, but gives the Board an indication of the sentiments and desire of the properties located within HHP,” the email said.
The survey is the first official step by the HHPPOA Board to possibly change the name of the gated community, located on the north end of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina and home to around 10,000 residents.
Unofficially, residents have been debating changing the name throughout the summer on Next Door and Facebook. Some have proposed changing Hilton Head Plantation to Hilton Head Point, Pines Place, Or Preserve to keep its known initials, while others have fiercely defended keeping it.
Sea Pines Resort, the island’s second largest gated community, dropped Plantation from its name more than a decade ago. Earlier this summer, Wexford, a high-end gated community on Hilton Head’s south end, took “plantation” off its main sign. In late July, Palmetto Hall residents voted to keep “Plantation” in the community’s name, WSAV reported.
In early June, Beaufort County Resident Marisa Wojcikiewicz started a change.org petition “Beaufort County’s gated and resort communities should not be called Plantations” in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd.
The petition, first reported on by The Island Packet, has been featured in several national media stories including the New York Times and NPR.
“Coined in the American South, the term ‘plantation’ referred to institutions of agricultural mass production, which, by their very economic nature, required slave labor,” Wojcikiewicz wrote in the petition. “Using this word to name our neighborhoods is outdated, unwelcoming, and attempts to gloss over our country’s cruel history. This word is rooted in violence, oppression, dehumanization, and the commodification of black bodies. “
Wojcikiewicz wrote in the petition that “in the modern era, communities across the state of South Carolina have co-opted this word to represent the exclusivity of gated and resort living.”
“In this case, they say it’s ‘just a word’. But it’s not just a word; it is an emblem of the very worst of our American history, and we can’t allow it to be associated with idyllic white upper-middle and upper class life any more,” the petition said.
More than 10,000 people have signed the petition.
A group of Hilton Head Plantation residents have also banned together to create a website “HHP Community For Change,” which outlines several arguments for the name change. According to the website, HHPPOA members have not estimated how much it would cost to change the name, but the organization guaranteed it would cover $100,000 for legal fees.
“We have an amazing, diverse community that provides amenities, friendships and security to 4,000+ households and we want our name to reflect a more current, more descriptive picture of who we are and our humanity,” Hilton Head Plantation residents said on the website.
Hilton Head Plantation will allow each household one vote in the survey, which will go through the end of September.
“Once the survey is closed, the results will be shared with the property owners, and the next steps by the Board will be considered,” the HHPOA email said. “The survey will be conducted electronically and will only count one vote per property.”
We’ll keep you updated…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR..
Mandy Matney is the news director at FITSNews. She’s an investigative journalist from Kansas who has worked for newspapers in Missouri, Illinois, and South Carolina before making the switch to FITS. She currently lives on Hilton Head Island where she enjoys beach life. Mandy also hosts the Murdaugh Murders podcast. Want to contact Mandy? Send your tips to [email protected].
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