Masked member of the Ku Klux Klan (Photo by Tim Boyle)
A billboard with the visage of the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan was recently erected within sight of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, AL, where President Obama will be speaking today to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” reports the NY Daily News.
The billboard, emblazoned with the image of Nathan Bedford Forrest sitting gallantly atop a horse with a Confederate flag in the background, invites visitors to see “Selma’s War Between The States Historic Sites,” and features a bizzare quote below the image: “Keep the skeer on ’em.”
“Skeer” whom is the question.
Maybe the Republicans, whom until Friday night were not sending any of its leadership to Selma for the historic commemoration also known as #Selma50, although the president, a large bi-partisan Congressional delegation and former President George W. Bush are confirmed to attend.
According to CNN, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy will now go to Selma Saturday to join in the 50th anniversary events because of his good friendship with celebrated Civil Rights icon Rep. John Lewis, with whom he showed “Selma” the film at the Capitol.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner, and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise will not be on hand for the celebration, reports CNN.
So, McCarthy may or may not see the billboard, which some deem not only offensive but “threatening”:
“It feels threatening because we think of Forrest as the founder of the KKK and that reminds us of the violence,” said Kirsten Muller, 59, co-founder of international human rights organization Global Exchange.
And then there are those who cannot seem to let the tragic past go.
“That billboard was put there with positive intent to ask people who come to Selma to explore and enjoy our 19th century history,” said Patricia Goodwin, head of the group Friends of Forrest Inc. who take credit for the billboard.
Raw Story reports that Goodwin is known as a known “confederate-activist” who has called the historic 1965 march “the Mother of All Orgies.”
“Does it say anything in the Constitution where a certain faction of people cannot be offended?” Goodwin adds, to the Daily News. “I’m offended by all these people walking around with their pants hanging around their knees.”
Ironically, on the very other side of the Confederate apologist monstrosity is another billboard with an entirely different message. It welcomes the President and visitors to Selma for the historic occasion, which is said to be the impetus of getting the Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed.
It reads: “Selmapostherald.com Welcomes President Barack Obama and you to Selma.”