Decision Maker Response
Cecil Williamson’s response
Aug 22, 2012 —
Thank you for your incisive expressions of concern regarding the monument of General Nathan Bedford Forrest (NBF) on Confederate Circle in Selma, Alabama. Had I only read the petition posted by Ms. Fortier, I would have wrongly assumed that the City of Selma was erecting a monument to NBF on public property. Please be advised that the City of Selma is neither erecting nor expanding a monument to NBF. Please be further advised that the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) is erecting a pedestal on an acre of property which was donated by the City of Selma to the Ladies Memorial Association, now the UDC, in 1877 "to erect a monument to the memory of the Confederate dead". (Minutes of Selma City Council, April 17, 1877) Said monument was erected and then dedicated on April 26, 1878, with the
re-burial of 156 Confederate soldiers.
After one hundred thirty-four (134) years, this monument and grave site remain on the acre of land donated to the UDC.
With the permission of a previous city administration, a monument of NBF was placed on city property in October, 2000.
In February, 2001, the City Council voted to and did move the monument to its present location on Confederate Circle. (CC) For the past eleven (11) years, the NBF monument had sat undistrubed on the CC. Recently the bust of NBF was stolen. The UDC decided to recast the bust, put the monument on a pedestal and build a period wrought iron fence around it to make the monument more difficult to steal. That is what is presently being done, not by the City of Selma, but by the UDC on property donated to them one hundred thirty-five years ago.
Because the CC is in Selma's historic district, the UDC, prior to beginning the construction of the pedestal and fence, appeared bfore the local Historic Commission and obtained approval of the design of the pedestal and fence and purchased the requisite building permits.
Thankfully, the First Amendment to the Constitution protects freedom of expression, no matter how unpopular, and greatly limits the ability of any government to suppress speech, no matter how offensive. For information about the originator of this petition, Ms. Malika Sanders Fortier, please go to www.angelfire.com/un/selma and read the latest post titled "White Man Calls Black Woman a Ho".
Again, thank you for contacting me with your concerns; however, please be assured that the City of Selma is neither building nor expanding the NBF monument.
Attorney at Law
President, Selma City Council