Gadsden’s battle over its Confederate monument

Local News

GADSDEN, Ala. (WIAT) — The Gadsden City Council meeting Tuesday morning came with some extra tension in the wake of some residents demanding that a statue of a local farm girl who played a part in the Confederacy be removed.

The monument is located at the city’s entrance and commemorates the life of Emma Sansom, a farm girl known for assisting Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest in capturing Union commander Abel Streight outside the town. During the council meeting, Sansom’s monument brought citizens and council members on both sides of the argument to speak on the issue.

“You’re the city of champions,” Gadsden resident Lance Bristow said, adding that the city has more meaningful, less divisive things to honor. “This is the best you have to offer? It’s been 100 and some odd years since that thing was put up. There’s nothing else you can memorialize?”

However, not everyone was on board with removing the monument. Gadsden area resident Frank Leatherwood said it’s about preserving history.

“I don’t want to cover up any history,” Leatherwood said. “History is history. Like I said before, we need to learn from it. Maybe we don’t make those mistakes again.”

The Sansom monument has become a symbol of the city and is even part of the city’s seal.

The majority of the council members present during the meeting stood in support of either moving the monument or completely relocating it.

“Memorializing the Confederacy was and is a mistake,” District 2 council member Deverick Williams said. “I think many forget what these symbols mean. It’s memorializing hate.”

Below is a brief history of Sansom’s involvement in the Civil War that Greater Gadsden Area Tourism detailed on its website:

Erected 1906 by Gadsden Chapter of The United Daughters of The Confederacy. This marker is included in the United Daughters of the Confederacy marker series. Location. 34° 0.67′ N, 85° 59.99′ W. The monument is at the intersection of Broad Street and South 1st Street, in the median on Broad Street.

The Emma Sansom Monument marks the Memorial Bridge’s entrance (bridge opened in 1927 dedicated to the memory of the Etowah County World War 1 heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for the country). The monument stands in memory of the Gadsden heroine. When the enemy had burned the bridge over Black Creek, Sansom mounted behind Gen. Forrest and showed him a ford where his command crossed. He pursued and captured that enemy and saved the city of Rome, GA.

brief history of sansom monument found on greatergadsdenareatourism.com

As of Tuesday, there was no word on when or if the issue would come to a vote in a future meeting.


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