A billboard honoring the founder of the Ku Klux Klan, Nathan Bedford Forrest, has appeared in Selma, Alabama. The billboard, which was allegedly put up to showcase Selma’s historical Civil War sites, contains an image of Forrest leading Confederate troops ahead of a Confederate flag, with the tagline, “Keep the skeer on ’em.”
Of course, people are outraged, according to the New York Daily News. The first offensive thing on the Selma billboard is that phrase, “Keep the skeer on ’em.” It means, “Keep them afraid.”
The second offensive thing is Forrest himself. Confederate war hero and founder of the KKK? How is putting up a billboard honoring him in a place with the history of Selma not offensive?
The third thing is the billboard’s location near the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where President Obama gave his speech, and where police beat hundreds of black protesters marching to Montgomery on March 7, 1965, on what is now known as “Bloody Sunday.”
Raw Story quoted a spokeswoman for Forrest, Inc., a historical organization, as saying:
That billboard was put there with positive intent to ask people who come to Selma to explore and enjoy our 19th century history. Does it say anything in the Constitution where a certain faction of people cannot be offended? I’m offended by all these people walking around with their pants hanging around their knees.
How fantastic. However, The Raw Story also says that the Southern Poverty Law Center says Goodwin is a neo-Confederate activist. The SPLC says that she’s fought hard to block recognition of the civil rights march that Obama, and Selma, are commemorating this weekend. She’s also denounced the march as “The Mother of all Orgies.” So, her assurances that the group meant nothing racist by the billboard are sketchy, at best. Either Goodwin really is that ignorant and oblivious, or there is, in fact, racist intent behind it. Given her history, the billboard has racist intent.
It’s also likely that the group used the fact that a lot of people were coming to that particular bridge on this particular weekend to try and further their racist, white supremacist agenda. Some feel that racism and bigotry aren’t going to leave Selma anytime soon, and with people like Goodwin putting up billboards like that, they may be right.
In an interesting twist, the flip side of the Selma billboard reads, “Selmapostherald.com Welcomes President Barack Obama And You to Selma.”
Watch a short video on the Selma billboard here:[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9ipamQFqzo?rel=0&w=560&h=315]
Featured image via screen capture