Without belaboring it, I fully concur with those who want to rename the Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge. I have little to add to these paragraphs from a guest editorial by the Georgia Historical Society’s Stan Deaton in the Savannah Morning News two weeks ago:
From time to time, Savannahians discuss renaming the Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge, and with good reason: It’s named for one of the most backward-looking, outspokenly racist demagogues in our history. Even when the original bridge was rebuilt, we named it again for Talmadge. For many, the name remains an embarrassment.
It was Talmadge who said in a stump speech, “Before God, the niggers will never go to a school which is white while I am governor.” It was Talmadge who referred to the Rosenwald Fund as “Jew money for niggers.” Racial demagoguery was Talmadge’s stock in trade and he was proud of it. Would we put his words on a banner and fly them from the bridge so that all who drive over it will know that this is what we believe and stand for? Naming the bridge for him is tantamount to doing so.
Now it looks possible that things could move ahead with apparently full support from Chatham County’s entire state delegation. From today’s New Bridge Name on the Horizon:
“We met on (Feb. 21), and there seems to be pretty much a consensus to move the name to the Savannah Bridge or the Savannah River Bridge,” said Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah. “It just seems to make more sense to attach the name to a location or a destination and not a person.”
The new name, decided by a majority vote of the delegation, would be drafted into a bill that would have to be approved in the House and Senate and would need the signature of Gov. Nathan Deal before the state Department of Transportation would make the change.
It’s a long an interesting piece, well worth reading.
Deaton wants to name the bridge for Georgia founder James Oglethorpe. Some have suggested that we should name the bridge for Tomochichi.
I like both of those suggestions.
Of course, we also already have Oglethorpe Square, an Oglethorpe monumnet, and Oglethorpe Avenue. Tomochichi has just the one monument, but I’m not sure we should name our massive bridge, with its vistas of European-American style development, for a Native American.
But I do like the simplicity and literalness of Savannah River Bridge, which seems much better to me than just Savannah Bridge.
So, what other suggestions seem worthy of the city and the dramatic location??
A few ideas, some more serious than others, that probably have no chance of being selected:
- Juliette Gordon Low Bridge
- Johnny Mercer Bridge
- Flannery O’Connor Bridge (a writer? there’s the Walt Whitman Bridge from Philly to NJ)
- Veterans Memorial Bridge
- Bridge of the Lowcountry
- John Lewis Bridge (I know he’s not from Savannah, but if there’s any living politician from Georgia worth a 21st century bridge . . .)
- Gateway Bridge or maybe Atlantic Gateway Bridge
- Bridge to South Carolina Strip Clubs
- High Bridge
- Mariners Bridge
- New Century Bridge (this would have worked better if it had been built closer to 2000)
- Port City Bridge
- First City Bridge
I’m sure there are zillions of other good or at least entertaining options out there.
But, whatever we do, let’s move on.