Community activist and revolutionary leader Faya Rose Toure was reportedly arrested during a city council meeting in Selma, Alabama on Nov, 25. after protesting the construction of a monument in honor of Ku Klux Klan founding Grand Wizard and Confederate Army General Nathan Bedford Forrest, according to members of the Direct Action Committee of Saving Ourselves organization.
Selma City Council President Corey D. Bowie allegedly refused to allow Toure and other concerned citizens to speak on the racist monument, leading to her arrest.
“We have to look at the bigger picture,” Bowie said. “We are going to have to embrace both the civil war and the civil rights movement as part of our city’s history. Once we can appreciate both ends then we can move past this.”
Even though Toure’s bail was set at $1,000, she is refusing to post it in protest of the council’s plan to move forward with the Forrest memorial and remains in jail.
Toure, the wife of Alabama State Sen. Hank Sanders, is the co-founder and chair of the Direct Action Committee of Saving Ourselves (S.O.S.), a Movement of 32 organizations for Justice and Democracy.
Her organization is standing behind her and speaking out on her arrest:
“If they put one of us in jail, they have put all of us in jail,” said SOS Co-Chair Johnny Ford, Mayor of Tuskegee, Alabama.
I reached out to NewsOne contributor, Attorney and Legal Analyst Eric L. Guster to determine if Selma’s Black taxpayers could opt out of funding a statue honoring a racist organization, one that specifically terrorized Black people in the Deep South. Unfortunately, protesting — and voting — seem to be their only available course of action:
“The transfer of land and the $50,000 cash payment for the purpose of erecting a statue is a slap in the face of every person who was hanged, tortured, harassed or killed by the Ku Klux Klan,” said Guster exclusively to Hello Beautiful. “As a resident of Alabama, I am shocked, hurt and angry that the city of Selma would do such a thing. I was asked whether Black citizens could not pay money toward this project. Unfortunately, I do not know of a way for citizens to refuse to pay money for this statue except to exercise their rights to vote to elect a new council and mayor to prevent travesties like this from happening in the future.”
Toure, formerly known as Rose Sanders before shedding her “slave name in 2003, is a long time civil rights activist and attorney, and the first African-American female judge in Alabama’s history. She has been at the forefront of many post-civil rights movements, most specifically, those dealing with education.
According to the SOS press release, Toure “spearheaded the national effort to unseat former Selma mayor, Joe Smitherman (who was the mayor in 1965 during the Selma to Montgomery March and who famously called Dr. King, “Martin Luther Coon” on national television) in 2000 with the “Joe Gotta Go” campaign that garnered international support.”
Toure’s fight to dismantle entrenched, institutionalized racism is well-documented. Specifically, she has been protesting the Forrest monument for years, appearing several times on the city council‘s agenda.
“I have been mentored by and worked with Faya Rose Toure for more than 25 years,” said Tarana Burke. “She is the embodiment of a freedom fighter and has put herself on the line for the causes of people of color more times than I can count. This time we need to stand with her. We HAVE to push back against moves like this for the sake of our ancestors as well as our children. What message does it send to them when they see a monument to a man who was one of the authors of White supremacy be allowed to exist without a fight.”
To sign the petition protesting the Nathan Bedford Forrest memorial statue, and to support Faya Rose Toure, visit Change.org.
See Toure challenge the council in 2010 below:
See the S.C.L.C., Rainbow Push Coalition and over activists speak out against the celebration of domestic terrorism in Selma, Alabama below:
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Follow Kirsten West Savali on Twitter at @KWestSavali.