In Selma, Alabama, a monument to the first leader of the Ku Klux Klan is under construction on public land.
The statue of Confederate General Nathan Forrest — infamous as the first Grand WIzard of the Klan and for massacring black Union soldiers at the Civil War battle of Fort Pillow — even has the blessing of the Selma City Council.
Selma is home to some of the most important events of the Civil Rights Movement — including “Bloody Sunday,” when 600 activists fighting for African-American voting rights were attacked by state and local police.
A group called Friends of Forrest built the original monument, and now the group is planning to lay concrete for a new foundation, add a new bust of the KKK founder, enclose the monument in a wrought iron gate, and add night lighting.
Malika Sanders-Fortier is a community leader in Selma, and when she heard about the plan for the monument she was outraged. Malika is proud of her city’s place in history, and she thinks that 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.
And we don’t have a racism problem in this country?
Malika started a petition demanding that the Selma City Council remove the monument to a founder of the Ku Klux Klan.
"Selma City Council: No More Monuments to KKK Hate!"
by Malika Fortier with "GrassrootsDemocracy.net"
People know Selma, Alabama as a city where Dr. King fought for civil rights. Selma was the launching point for pivotal protests that hurtled the voting rights movement into the national spotlight. It is also a city of tragedy: thousands of students, religious leaders, and families fighting for civil rights in Selma were arrested, injured, or brutally killed.
I grew up in Selma. Now, as a community organizer, I think often about the sacrifices of the people who lived here before me. I was outraged and ashamed to learn that Selma's city council is sitting idly by as a local neo-Confederate group expands a public monument to a founder of the Ku Klux Klan, Nathan Bedford Forrest.
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.
Nathan Bedford Forrest was a Confederate military leader, a founding member of the KKK, and the first Grand Wizard of the KKK. He wasn't even from Selma -- why should Selma be honoring his shameful legacy of racial segregation and terrorism?
If Selma wants be viewed by the rest of the country as forward-thinking, we cannot give in to those who pine for the "good ole days" of the 1860s. This monument has blighted our town for far too long. Please join me in calling on the Selma city council to remove the monument celebrating Ku Klux Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forrest.
Petitioning Selma City Council:
[begin Petition Letter]
Dear Selma City Council,
I am writing to strongly urge you to stop the current plans to expand a monument celebrating Nathan Bedford Forrest.
People know Selma, Alabama as the city where Dr. King fought for civil rights. Selma was the launching point for historical protests that hurtled the civil rights movement into the national spotlight. It is also a city of tragedy: thousands of students, religious leaders, and families fighting for civil rights in Selma were arrested, injured, or brutally killed.
It was shocking to learn that Selma would ever choose to celebrate the legacy of a Ku Klux Klan founder and Grand Wizard by allowing a monument to Nathan Bedford Forrest to stand on city property. For the council to allow this monument to be expanded would simply be beyond the pale.
If Selma wants be viewed by the rest of the country as forward-thinking, we cannot give in to those who pine for the "good ole days" of the 1860s. The Selma city council has no business allowing the the city's history and the memory of those who fought for civil rights to be smeared in this way. I demand that you stop the expansion of the Nathan Bedford Forrest monument and remove it from public property.
Sincerely, [Your name]
[end Petition Letter]