The decision to build a monument to a KKK founder isn’t sitting well with many local citizens. Selma community activist Malika Sanders-Fortier, who created the petition on Change.org after hearing about the monument, noted the city’s historical links to the Civil Rights Movement in a letter to the Selma City Council, which has expressed support for the plan:
“People know Selma, Alabama, as the city where Dr. [Martin L.] King [Jr.] fought for civil rights,” Fortier wrote. “The Selma City Council has no business allowing that the city’s history and the memory of those who fought for civil rights to be smeared in this way.”“Nathan Bedford Forrest led his troops to kill Black soldiers who had surrendered,” said Alabama State Senator Hank Sanders in an interview with the Daily Agenda. “He killed women and children. That would be enough alone that you would not have this monument built.”
Interestingly enough, this wouldn’t be the first state to offer its respects to Forrest: The state of Tennessee currently has 32 historical markers in his name and also named July 13th, Forrest’s birthday, Nathan Bedford Forrest Day. In Mississippi, Governor Haley Barbour refused demands from the NACCP to ban the issuing of vanity plates honoring Forrest.
Even before the monument project was set in motion, Selma already had its own nod to Forrest: a small bronze bust erected at the city’s Live Oak Cemetery. The bust mysteriously vanished in March, though, and has yet to be found. A strange coincidence? Or is this an indication of how some in the community view Forrest?