Activists in Selma, Alabama are set to march a historic route through the city today (Tuesday) and present more than 325,000 signatures to the Selma City Council opposing the placement of a monument to controversial Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest.
The original Selma monument to the man recognized as the first Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan was stolen. A private group, Friends of Forrest, wants to place another monument honoring Forrest in Live Oak Cemetery.
The city council in Selma is scheduled to listen to public concerns over the matter prior to its meeting Tuesday at 3 p.m. The council meeting is set to start at 5 p.m.
Malika Sanders-Fortier launched a petition drive on Change.org last month. She has also connected with other civil rights organizations that will be joining in the Selma March.
Sanders-Fortier says that the Forrest bust is a symbol of hate. Southern heritage groups, including Friends of Forrest, say he should be recognized because as a Confederate general, he protected Alabama.
William Winters, senior campaigner with Change.org, said the 325,000 signatures collected thus far on the Forrest statue, shows that there is great concern about the issue throughout the country.
“The petition calling for Bank of America to reverse its plans for $5 ATM fees drew about 309,000 signatures, and was instrumental in the decision to change those plans,” Winters told BlackAmericaweb.com.
He said the large number of signatures gathered for Selma should also have an impact.
Sanders-Fortier, a native of Selma, has said she was compelled to do something because she is so often reminded of the sacrifices of others in her city.
In 1965, civil rights marchers were beaten back on the Edmund Pettus Bridge during an attempt to march from Selma to Montgomery for voting rights.
Several days later, after the federal government intervened, the marchers were able to make the trek.
"I grew up in Selma. Now, as a community organizer, I think often about the sacrifices of the people who lived here before me," says in the petition statement. "I was outraged and ashamed to learn that Selma's city council is sitting idly by.
Earlier this month during a Selma City Council work session, 19 people requested time to speak about the Forrest statue and 12 showed up according to the Selma Times-Journal.
None of the speakers present spoke in favor of the statue, according to the report.
The march today is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge and end at the Selma City Hall.
Monuments celebrating violent racism and intolerance have no place in this country, let alone in a city like Selma, where the families of those attacked by the Klan still live.