Fiery Protest Erupts in Selma Over Monument Tied to Ku Klux Klan


By Tamika Bickham

Members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference are protesting a monument they say incites hatred. It honors Nathan Bedford Forrest, a lieutenant general in the Confederate Army and the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

"Never, ever will I accept this type of behavior. I feel like marching right now!" said Dr. Charles Steele, the CEO of the SCLC.

Words of outrage and fiery protest filled Selma's Old Live Oak Cemetery Friday morning.

"It's the negative imagery that we will not tolerate. It's something that we are not going to compromise in any way because of where we come from. We are willing to die for this," said Steele.

Die defending their history and opposing a monument of Nathan Bedford Forrest, one the SCLC says symbolizes hate in the bedrock of the civil rights movement. Forrest was a lietuenant general in the Confederate Army and the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

"It's almost like they are reliving the Edmund Pettus Bridge episode all over again and thinking if they can do this, can they now suppress our vote?" asked Bishop Tavis Grant with the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

There is a memorial that already stands honoring Nathan Bedford Forrest. That is not the controversy, but the newer larger monument that's being built is.

"We are not building a new memorial, we are building a platform to secure the existing monument. That's all this is," said Patricia Godwin.

Godwin is a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and is the push behind the project. She says this all started after a bronze bust of Forrest was stolen earlier this year. The group was granted a building permit by the Selma City Council, but Senator Hank Sanders says that is only to rebuild the existing memorial.

"Since they have no legal right to do it, they are not protected by any legal right when we stop them," said Senator Sanders.

"We own Confederate Circle. We have for 134 years, so if you have any legal questions, I'm not going to answer any legal questions," said Godwin.

Those who oppose the monument say you can expect a march and even for them to occupy the cemetery until this monument is removed.

Supporters say they can do that, but say they will continue to move ahead with their building plans.

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