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BERLIN (Reuters) – The Berlin transport company BVG has announced that it will rename a subway station in the city center that is known for bearing a name based on a derogatory word for black people.
The announcement is in the midst of a global settlement of buried legacies of racism and colonial crimes that underlie many Western societies and were triggered by the death of a black policeman in the United States by George Floyd.
The Berlin BVG said that the underground station "Mohrenstrasse" – literally Moorstrasse, which uses the medieval name for people from North Africa – would be renamed after another nearby street, the Glinka Street, named after the Russian composer Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka from the 19th century.
The train station, a few hundred meters from the Brandenburg Gate in central Berlin, has given birth to a number of names since it opened in 1908. In 1991 it received its current name.
Although the word "mohr" is no longer used in modern German, its history – linguists say that it took on a derogatory taste in the 18th century – has caused complaints about its use in some street names.
Last month, unidentified activists taped the station entrance and temporarily called it "George Floyd Street".
"Out of respect for the sometimes controversial debate about the street name, the BVG decided not to name the subway station anymore," it said. "The BVG rejects all forms of racism and discrimination."
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