After years of agitation by Black activists and their German supporters, a Berlin underground train station will be renamed.
According to the management of the Berlin public transport authorities (BVG), the “U-Bahnhof Mohrenstrasse”, the station on Line U2 of the city’s metro network, will be changed to “U-Bahnhof Glinkastraße”.
The decision, announced on Friday, came as Black Lives Matter protests are leading to the toppling of colonial and slavery monuments in the US and several European countries.
“Out of understanding and respect for the sometimes controversial debate about the street name, the BVG has now decided not to continue using it for the subway station. As a cosmopolitan company and one of the largest employers in the capital, the BVG rejects all forms of racism or other discrimination,” the BVG said in a press statement.
Activists, including those of the Alliance Decolonize Berlin e.V., comprising of AFROTAK TV, cyberNomads, AfricAvenir International e.V., Berliner Entwicklungspolitischer Ratschlag BER e.V., Berlin Postkolonial e.V., Each One Teach One EOTO e.V., FuturAfrik e.V., glokal e.V., Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland ISD-Bund e.V., NARUD e.V., have long been campaigning for the renaming of the Mohrenstrasse (“Moor Street”), located in the central district of Berlin.
Mohren (“Moors”) was the German derogatory description of Africans during the slave trade and activists say such a word should have no place in today’s vocabulary.
The renaming will take a few weeks, as BVG spokeswoman Petra Nelken said in an interview with the daily newspaper Berliner Morgenpost. The time of the renaming would be announced in good time, she said.
The new name is derived from the adjacent Glinka street, BVG said. Glinka Street is named after the Russian composer Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka (1804-1857).
The next step is for the municipal authorities to also change the name of the street after which the underground train station is named. A group of residents has been resisting the change of the street name saying it would cost the government a lot of money.
Decolonize Berlin, which wants the street to be renamed after Anton Wilhelm Amo to honour the first scholar of African descent in a Prussian university, is currently carrying out an online petition campaign for the renaming of the street.
The renaming of the underground station is a major victory for the Black community in Germany and comes after Cologne also banned the use of the n-word following a petition launched by Black organisations in the city. Across the country there are still many streets named after German colonial officials who committed horrendous crimes during the period of German colonial rule in several parts of Africa. Therefore, the struggle continues.
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