GADSDEN, Ala. (WBRC) - Gadsden’s newly formed human relations committee has met for the first time and will likely meet in mornings.
The committee was formed as part of the national reckoning on race relations held after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police. It was inspired by the city council’s debate over whether to remove a Confederate statue of Civil War figure Emma Sansom and a debate over whether to rename Forrest Cemetery, which is believed to be named after Confederate General and KKK Co-founder Nathan Bedford Forrest.
The first meeting was mostly organizational in nature. Members stood up to introduce themselves and describe their backgrounds. Many used that opportunity to express their hopes for the committee.
“I don’t want to go to meetings just to meet,” said member Michelle Bradford.
Members include attorneys, historians, school board member Adrienne Reed, Gadsden Library Director Craig Scott, local historian Danny Crownover, even a student as young as 20.
They will discuss topics such as whether monuments should be moved, streets should be renamed, and practices of the Gadsden Police Department.
Adrienne Reed, the Gadsden school board member, told us her daughter inspired her to get involved. She said she wanted her daughter see her try to improve her hometown.
“I’m interested in people using logic and their hearts to make decisions, rather than what’s popular or what’s unsavory at the moment. We have to make some tough decisions. I’m thinking that the people that they’ve chosen are people that are willing to step up to the plate,” Reed said after the meeting. The committee’s work will be advisory in nature, and will make recommendations to the city council.
The committee will not have a budget, but will be allowed use of city meeting facilities. The first meeting was held in the council chambers of Gadsden City Hall.
“We are at the cusp of being able to do something very meaningful and very positive with this committee,” said Deverick Williams, a Gadsden City Council member who co-chairs the committee with fellow councilor Jason Wilson.