Resolution calls for Williamson to resign post as council president

Published 11:14 pm Monday, August 23, 2010

by leesha faulkner

the selma times-journal

SELMA — Ward 5 Councilman Samuel Randolph will introduce a resolution at tonight’s city council meeting, asking president Cecil Williamson to resign because of his neo-confederate beliefs.

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Randolph gave council members a copy of the resolution Monday night during a work session. He declined to talk about it. “I’ll talk about it tomorrow night,” Randolph said.

The one-page document charges Williamson with helping create The Friends of Forrest, a group of people who celebrate the birthday of and the military career of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest. Among his many military assignments, Bedford unsuccessfully defended Selma against Union troops in 1865.

The document also points out Forrest oversaw a massacre of black Federal troops stationed at Fort Pillow, Tenn., burying some of them alive, burning others. The incident was the ugliest racial incident of the war and was verified by by a congressional investigation in 1864.

The document also acknowledges Forrest as introducing military tactics into the Ku Klux Klan.

Randolph also points out in the resolution Williamson’s membership in the League of the South, a membership the council president said he gave up.

In the document Randolph said the city is embarrassed by Williamson’s membership in these groups “and brings shame to the governing body.”

Williamson said Monday night after the meeting he does not plan to resign from his position. “I will continue to serve. I am not going anywhere except to Northern Africa in a week on vacation,” he said.

Randolph won’t get at least two votes on the council.

Susan Keith of Ward 2 said each council member makes personal decisions and choices that are not agreed upon or approved of by other council members.

“When we, as a body, begin to officially criticize each other for things we each do on personal time, it’s a mighty slippery slope,” she said. “We are not here to police each other’s social calendars; we are here to conduct the business of the city. I am disappointed in the proffered resolution.”

Angela Benjamin of Ward 4 said she does not condone racism of any kind, picture demeaning groups and individuals or discrimination against any shape. By pictures, Benjamin referred to a caricature of an African-American child eating watermelon placed near a table of watermelon slices served at this year’s Forrest birthday celebration. Williamson attended the celebration and introduced one of the speakers, but said he did not see the art deco piece propped against the serving table. Benjamin said the pictures were offensive to her.

“Tonight I received a resolution that would read in this manner,” she said. “It does not. Had it been crafted in that manner or similar, I would have supported. That’s just too bad for many citizens.”

Benjamin said, “Last council meeting, racist and sexist remarks were made directly to me. This is not becoming of any public leader elected by the people.”

Benjamin referred to Randolph calling her an “African-American black woman.” Both Randolph and Benjamin are African Americans.”