A billboard honoring the founder of the Ku Klux Klan now stands within sight the historic bridge in Selma, Alabama that was the site of the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” clash between civil rights protesters and police.
The New York Daily News reported Saturday that the billboard shows Nathan Bedford Forrest — Klan founder and Confederate war hero — astride his horse with the motto, “Keep the skeer on ’em,” meaning, “Keep them afraid.”
President Barack Obama is traveling to Selma on Saturday to march alongside Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and thousands of celebrants as they commemorate the historic clash which took place on March 7, 1965, as a crowd of nonviolent, mostly black protesters marched headlong into a column of Alabama National Guardsmen and other law enforcement officers.
Ironically, on the opposite side of the Forrest billboard — which reads “Visit Selma’s War Between the States historic sites” — is a sign welcoming the president and others to Selma for the 50th anniversary of the march.
“Selmapostherald.com Welcomes President Barack Obama and you to Selma,” reads the other sign.
The Daily News quoted Flossie Menifee, 67, who grew up in Selma.
“It should be taken down,” Menifee said. “The Ku Klux Klan, the hatred, the prejudice, I think it’s always going to be in Selma.”
The billboard was erected by the friends of Forrest, Inc., a historical group that says it meant nothing racist by placing the billboard so close to this historic Edmund Pettus Bridge.
Spokeswoman Patricia Goodwin told the News, “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.”
She claims that she only chose the location because of its high visibility to visitors.
The Southern Poverty Law Center pointed out that Goodwin is a known neo-Confederate activist who has called the historic 1965 march “the Mother of All Orgies” and has previously fought efforts to commemorate the civil rights marchers who were beaten with bullwhips and police batons on Bloody Sunday.
Godwin is known for signing her emails “The Wizardess,” a reference to Forrest’s title as the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.