Gadsden Human Relations Committee to hold its first meeting in two weeks

Gadsden City Council creates human relations committee

GADSDEN, Ala. (WBRC) - A new sub-committee of the Gadsden City Council will begin looking into racism and other community issues two weeks from now.

The co-chairs of the committee, city council members Deverick Williams and Jason Wilson, held a news conference Tuesday to discuss what will be known as the Human Relations Advisory Committee.

It was created a few weeks ago after the council considered moving the Emma Sansom Confederate Memorial from downtown and considered renaming Forrest Cemetery, which is believed to be named for Confederate General and Ku Klux Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forrest. Forrest also appears on the base of the Sansom statue.

The council voted 4-3 against both proposals.

Institutional racism will be one of many topics the committee will examine.

“And you can’t just say, ‘Well I don’t feel that way so it’s not real.’ You can just say, ‘Well, I never experienced that as a kid, so it must be fake.’ What we all have to do, as citizens, is elevate our thinking, above our own perspective,” Wilson told reporters.

Wilson says among the things the committee plans to do is study the monuments act and how it would be applied to renaming streets. He has proposed renaming Forrest Avenue, also named in honor of General Forrest.

Williams made the point about the need for the committee by describing an incident in which a local law enforcement officer call him “that boy who was here a minute ago.”

Williams is Black.

“This is 2020, not 1968,” he said. In addition to racism and other similar cultural issues, the committee will examine police policies and procedures, among other things.

The committee will include historians and attorneys who will examine Alabama’s monuments law, and will also include a number of people under the age of 30.

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