With a small staff and a daunting mission, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names has little interest in policing the names of city streets, housing developments, and commercial centers, rarely labeled on Geological Survey topographic maps. Racial and ethnic naming, renaming, and overlay naming are a fact of life in American cities with influential minority populations easily persuaded that squares and plazas provide suitable naming opportunities after all the parks and playgrounds are taken. Between 1978 and 1983, for instance, the New York City Council appended labels like Pope John Paul II Square and W. C. Handy Place to 105 venues throughout the five boroughs. Renaming can be deliberately confrontational, as in December 1984, when New York mayor Edward Koch dedicated the street corner opposite South Africa's UN mission to Nelson and Winnie Mandela.
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