Within sight of the bridge where President Obama will commemorate the 1965 Bloody Sunday march is a billboard set up by a group dedicated to honoring Ku Klux Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forrest.More, from Raw Story:
The sign, set up in recent days, invites visitors to see "Selma's War Between The States Historic Sites." But it also features a picture of the Confederate flag and an image of Forrest, who was also a Confederate general....
The head of the group behind the controversial billboard scoffed at the suggestion that some might find it offensive.
"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.
"Does it say anything in the Constitution where a certain faction of people cannot be offended?" she added. "I'm offended by all these people walking around with their pants hanging around their knees."
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.Oh, don't you dare say that. As one of her fellow neo-Confederates explained on a message board in 2005, there's a perfectly innocent explanation for the "Wizardess" nickname:
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.
I have been an acquaintance of Pat Godwin's for a couple of years, having met her at Fall Musters, and then through emails: sometimes just a joke but mainly about one of her latest causes for the Confederacy and the preservation of our history.Yes, how could anyone possibly think "she carries hostilities towards blacks"? Why? Because, as the Southern Poverty Law Center notes, she "often refers in E-mails to her majority-black hometown as 'Zimbabwe on de Alabamy'"? (For an example, go here.)
She has had a remarkable influence in making sure that the restoration of the huge Confederate monuments on the Capital grounds have finally been restored....
Pat and another friend of mine, Ellen Williams, have raised monies to take out full page ads to show up these inequities and finally accomplished their mission even though every effort was put in their path to stop them.
The title "Wizardess" was a private joke between two friends used only in implying that she was using sorcery to get her message across in the newspapers more often than most. But to see it used in the same reference as Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was of course, the Grand "Wizard" of the KKK is extremely insulting. It implies that she's some sort of vigilante and that she carries hostilities towards blacks when NOTHING could be further from the truth.
Or because she's referred to Rose Sanders, a Harvard-educated African-American lawyer who was one of the organizers of the Bloody Sunday commemoration, as a "domestic terrorist"?
In 2002, Alabama replaced the slogan "Heart of Dixie" on its license plates with "Stars Fell on Alabama. The reference to "Dixie" in the former phrase had offended blacks; it wasn't removed altogether, but it was made smaller on the plates. A movement arose to use stickers to replace the new slogan with the old "Dixie" slogan, and Pat Godwin was praised for her work on this effort in a post at a website called First Freedom. That post referred to Godwin as "the Wizardess":
“Bill, I think the true question here is, was it legal for them to do what they did to our tag?” replied the Wizardess of Selma, Patricia Godwin. She answered herself: “Yes, I guess; -- in the sense that the 1951 legislature didn’t fathom someone wouldn’t feel proud to be from the heart of Dixie -- they failed to specify the size of that logo and its location on the tag. They didn’t realize that, just 25 years later, the White legislators would be mollycoddling to a 25% Black caucus..."Hey, no racial animosity there, right?
The Godwin admirer who wrote that post was Olaf Childress, who, was the subject of this 2008 story from the Southern Poverty Law Center:
Don't expect Olaf Childress to shed any tears when he puts the 14th Amendment six feet under.Oh, but I'm sure it's silly to think that a guy like this would have thought to call Godwin "the Wizardess" out of respect for her resemblance to a Klan leader.
And Childress isn't speaking metaphorically, either. The neo-Confederate stalwart plans to transport a casket bearing a copy of the 14th Amendment from his southern Alabama home to the shores of the Potomac River for burial....
The vehicle carrying the deceased will be none other than Childress' "Death to the 14th Amendment" hearse. After buying the 1995 Buick Roadmaster about a year and a half ago, Childress outfitted it with magnetic Confederate battle flags on both front doors and the words "Death to the 14th Amendment" on the rear doors. The back of the hearse directs fellow travelers to his website, www.14thfraud.com....
Childress, a 32-year resident of Silverhill, Ala., population 616, announced the amendment's upcoming interment in the September issue of his newspaper, The First Freedom (motto: "Inviting the Zionist-controlled media'cracy to meet a rising free South"). Once he's decided on a date, he said, he'll publicize the funeral there and in like-minded media sources, such as the white supremacist David Duke Report and "The Political Cesspool," a white nationalist radio show....
Oh, and when Godwin isn't railing against blacks who question her Confederate pride, she's organizing commemoration of Alabama's secession in 1861, and asserting that Confederate troops fired on Fort Sumter because “Lincoln bin laden had fortified the fort with arms and supplies.”
None of this is enough to fully marginalize Godwin, of course. Here's a news story from this past December:
A construction project underway at a historic cemetery in Selma is transforming a 135 year old confederate memorial site -- in preparation for the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Selma.I guess it's no problem for her to get the permits to do this. After all, she's clearly an upstanding, civic-minded citizen. Right?
Confederate Memorial Circle in Old Live Oak cemetery is one the places tourists go during the annual Battle of Selma Civil War Reenactment.
The memorial is now wheelchair accessible and will soon be equipped with lights, power and security cameras.
Park benches and historic plaques will also be installed at the site by the time the project is completed next month.
"I just cannot wait," said project fundraiser Pat Godwin. "We're going to see so many people in total awe, shock and awe, about Confederate Memorial Circle."
Godwin says the upgrades will help to preserve another part of the city's rich history and help promote tourism.