Girl Scouts in Atlanta to lobby for bridge name

Savannah lawmaker says they're closer than you think

ATLANTA (WSAV) — The Girl Scouts headed to the Georgia Capitol Tuesday, urging lawmakers to name the Talmadge Bridge after their organization’s founder.

The scouts spoke at a news conference during the afternoon alongside a huge illustration of the bridge.

They signed the illustration in support of Rep. Ron Stephens’ proposal to name the bridge in honor of Juliette Gordon Low.

Stephens had news that if it didn’t surprise the Girl Scouts, it did surprise some in the news media, i.e. that the process for getting Low’s name on the bridge may be easier than most people thought.

For those that may not know – in 1991, a new bridge was built to replace the existing Talmadge Bridge which had been officially named for Georgia Governor Eugene Talmadge.

By the 1990’s, the name Talmadge had become distasteful to at least some locals, especially African Americans who became more vocal in indicating their displeasure.

Talmadge was considered a racist and self-described segregationist. When the new bridge opened in 1991, the name Talmadge was put on that bridge.

But Tuesday, Stephens said that sign is not official. “It (the bridge) does not have a name, it never went through an official naming process,” he said of the 1991 structure. “So it’s an unnamed bridge at this point.”

Stephens offered a resolution to now “officially” name the bridge after Juliette Gordon Low, indicating a decision on whether it passes may be known by the end of the year.

He did tell us it is easier to name a bridge than to take someone’s name off. Stephens could only tell us that lawmakers had discovered the naming process (in 1991) had not been official. He couldn’t say why it had taken 27 years to discover this.

Meanwhile, he praised Juliette Gordon Low for being an inclusive leader who even 100 years ago made it clear that any girl, even girls of color, could join the group.

“Low had an all-inclusive club even before women could vote,” he said.

Stephens said the issue was not meant to indicate disrespect to Talmadge’s relatives. He said Eugene Talmadge had secured money to help build the original bridge “at a time when there was little local industry and the bridge helped to create jobs.”

Still, when it comes to the image some lawmakers apparently want to convey about Savannah (and perhaps particularly to visitors) Stephens said “.We’re in a different time now and the image we want to portray for this bridge that has never been named – is the Juliette Gordon Low Bridge,”

 

 

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