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Selma City Council to consider resolution

A resolution seeking to name Jeff Davis Avenue for the late J.L. Chestnut Jr., might hit a snag when the Selma City Council meets Tuesday.

Ward 6 Councilman Johnnie Leashore asked Jimmy Nunn, the city’s attorney, to draw up the resolution. Nunn distributed copies of the proposed resolution to other members of the city council during the Thursday work session and read the document aloud.

The resolution, which is 1 ½ legal-sized pages, recalls highlights of Chestnut’s life, including the attorney’s representing the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and more than 20,000 poor farmers in a class action lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The resolution seals the intent of the city council to rename Jeff Davis Avenue, if enough people on the thoroughfare indicate they want to make the change, per council policy, said Leashore.

“This resolution in no way attempts to circumvent the procedure the council should follow under the ordinance,” Leashore said.

But Ward 4 Councilwoman Geraldine Allen wanted to insert a phrase into the resolution, saying the council would make the change when the city’s process is completed.

“All we’re saying is we’re going to go by the process, and I’m fine with that,” she said.

Leashore and Ward 7 Councilwoman Bennie Ruth Crenshaw balked at the addition. Crenshaw said the extra language isn’t needed in the resolution because it’s already implied.

Ward 3 Councilwoman Jean Martin also raised an issue, saying Chestnut also defended white people and that the resolution should include the words “white people.”

“J.L. was my friend. I think we should honor him as a whole person, and say something about ‘the man who cared about everyone in town, who was his friend, including white people,” Martin said.

Crenshaw countered Martin’s proposal by saying the language in the resolution represents another time when Chestnut didn’t represent all the people.

Said Martin, “The way it’s written, I’m not included.”

Leashore maintained he wanted the resolution presented as he had instructed it written when the council meets Tuesday.