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Project Say Something has picked this statue of Dred Scott and his wife, Harriett, for a proposed monument that would be placed in front of the Lauderdale county Courthouse as a companion to the Civil War monument. [COURTESY PHOTO]

FLORENCE — A local group is asking Gov. Kay Ivey to take her apology for wearing blackface in college a step further by assisting in an endeavor to place a monument to Dred Scott outside the Lauderdale County Courthouse.

The letter from Project Say Something was sent Saturday, the organization's founder and executive director, Camille Bennett, said.

Project Say Something has been trying to establish a monument to Scott, who at one point lived in Florence, in front of the courthouse. Currently, a statue of a Confederate soldier is in front of the building.

Last week, Ivey admitted she had worn blackface during a skit at the Baptist Student Union while a student at Auburn University more than 50 years ago.

In the letter, Bennett wrote that she listened to Ivey's apology and a part of the speech "resonates" with her.

Bennett quoted that section of the speech: "I offer my heartfelt apologies for the pain and embarrassment this causes, and I will do all I can — going forward — to help show the nation that the Alabama of today is a far cry from the Alabama of the 1960s ... We have come a long way, for sure, but we still have a long way to go."

"We're going to see if she is a woman of her word, and if she is going to honor what she says in some ways, and this is a small step," Bennett said Thursday. "Accountability is essential, or her statement dies."

Bennett said she has not received a response from the governor's office.

In a statement to the TimesDaily on Thursday, Ivey's office said, "The Governor's Office received the request Saturday, and it will be processed accordingly. Gov. Ivey always welcomes the input of Alabama residents."

The Shoals-based Project Say Something was founded in 2014. It has campaigned for more than two years to erect a monument of Scott and his wife, Harriet, near the Confederate monument.

Scott lived in Florence from 1820 to 1830 with the Peter Blow family, and served as the hostler at the Peter Blow Inn.

Dred Scott was involved in a controversial Supreme Court ruling in 1857 — Dred Scott vs. Sanford — in which Scott unsuccessfully sued for his freedom and that of his wife and two daughters.

"This ruling, which has been called the worst in American history, helped to motivate abolitionists across the nation to continue to fight for the end of slavery," Bennett's letter reads. "The Dred Scott decision, through its gross injustice and denial of citizenship, propelled our nation towards justice. If the preservation of history is your goal, we must properly contextualize Confederate monuments to include the atrocities of slavery and the lives affected by the genocide and maltreatment of African people."

It tells Ivey "the overt racism captured in your Auburn recording is merely a symptom of the systemic racism that continues to infect our society."

It lists racial disparities in incarcerations, school suspensions, poverty, infant mortality and segregated housing as examples.

"We are asking that you take another small step towards reconciliation and consider endorsing and providing support to erect a monument to racial justice in Florence, AL," it reads. "Grassroots community organizations like Project Say Something are vital vessels of hope for marginalized people. We feel it is appropriate and necessary to request a meeting with yourself and your cabinet to discuss our campaign and proposal in greater detail."

bernie.delinski@timesdaily.com or 256-740-5739. Twitter @TD_BDelinski


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