Selma City Council hears concerns about monument

Published 10:17 pm Tuesday, September 11, 2012

In the midst of a heated debate that has now spread beyond Selma’s city limits through an online petition, the Selma City Council called a special work session Tuesday for citizens to voice their concerns about the construction of a renovated Nathan Bedford Forrest monument in Live Oak Cemetery.

Out of the 19 citizens on the agenda to speak Tuesday, 12 showed up to speak about the removal of the monument, while no speakers stepped forward in favor of the monument.

“Symbols are very important … As our children walk through this graveyard on a daily basis, and there is a lot of traffic that goes through there, these are the symbols that they see,” Yomi Goodall said about children being exposed to a monument of Forrest. “This is a symbol that represents hate.”

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Goodall, like the majority of the other speakers, compared erecting a statue of Forrest, who has ties to the formation and early days of the Klu Klux Klan, in Selma is akin to erecting a statue of Hitler in a Jewish neighborhood.

“Selma is a living history lesson; every corner is riddled with the history,” Rosa Monroe said. She went on say that we only teach our children half of the story, “but the half that goes untold is the half that is filled with horror.

“How can we honor and uplift this man when what he is being uplifted for is wrong,” Monroe said.

Last Tuesday, following a meeting called to certify the results of the Aug. 28 municipal election, it appeared the council had decided to not weigh in on the decision of who owns the property where the monument is being built, instead deferring to a decision in court to potentially settle the issue.

It remains unclear as to whether the property in Live Oak Cemetery, where the monument is located and being constructed, is owned by the city if a donation of the property by the city to a Confederate memorial group in 1877, although no deed has been produced, was legally completed.