BEAUMONT, Texas (Reuters) - A decade-long fight over a quiet country lane called "Jap Road" ended on Monday when local officials voted to change the racially charged name.

After hours of often bitter testimony, the Jefferson County Commissioners voted 4-3 to do away with the name that once honored a Japanese family, but now is considered a racial slur.

Residents of the road, located on the outskirts of the southeast Texas town of Fannett, 55 miles east of Houston, were given until next week to propose a new name.

The four-mile road has been around about 100 years and was said to be named in honor of Yoshio Mayumi and his family, who introduced the region to rice farming.

Some have suggested the name be changed to Mayumi Road.

The name change was first suggested 10 years ago, but rejected. The idea picked up steam when civil rights groups filed a discrimination complaint with the U.S. government last year asking that federal funds to the county be cut off.

Name change opponents argued that Jap Road was a piece of history that must be preserved, while change supporters said it was an offensive relic of the racist past.

"It's our history, it's our heritage. I can remember when it was a dirt road, now it's being portrayed as a racial divide between us and the Japanese-Americans," Earl Callahan, born and raised on Jap Road, told the commissioners.

County Judge Carl Griffith said the change was necessary to improve the image of southeast Texas.

"People believe in this country that we're a bunch of racists. There's not a soul here that would call anybody a Jap," he said.

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