Renaming The Talmadge Bridge: A Free Public DiscussionModerated By The Honorable Dr. Otis S. Johnson

Span the Gap, an association of local artists and community activists, has joined with The Beach Institute to sponsor a symposium Renaming the Talmadge Bridge to be held at the Savannah Theater (222 Bull Street on Chippewa Square) 6:30 8:30pm, on Tuesday, September 5, 2017.

The Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge, one of Sa vannah’s

iconic architectural wonders, was initially named in honor of Governor Eugene Talmadge in 1954 in the midst of intense debates regarding desegregation and civil rights for African Americans. Governor Talmadge was a notorious advocate of white supremacy and opponent of social and political equality in Georgia. In 1991, after the original bridge was replaced by the current version, it “defaulted” again to the Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge, despite the efforts of then Mayor John Rousakis and his administration who requested that the bridge be dedicated as “The Great Savannah Bridge.” In 2016, to mark its 25th anniversary, Span the Gap presented signed petitions to the Chatham County State Delegation urging that the Talmadge name be removed from the bridge and replaced with a name that reflects the perceived values of the city of Savannah. The name “The Tomochichi Bridge” was presented as worthy of consideration. Members of the State Delegation expressed fear or reluctance to take action to change the name, apparently out of concern for the possible reaction of the Talmadge family. Despite several efforts by citizens and local elected officials over the years to change the name, the Talmadge label continues as a painful reminder of social and racial oppression. The sponsors seek to provide a platform to discuss in a public forum the issues driving the need for a

name change. The Symposium will be an open and transparent discussion, involving panelists on both sides of the issue that will hopefully result in insights that ultimately lead to resolution. The civil exchange of views and perspectives will undoubtedly result in greater public awareness of the history of the bridge, the impact of its name and the social, political and economic significance of renaming it. Attendees will be invited to submit questions to the panel. PANELISTS INCLUDE: Aberjhani – Historian, Poet, Author, Mediator Francys Johnson – Pastor, State President Georgia NAACP, Civil Rights Attorney, Educator Bernetta B. Lanier – Community Organizer, CEO of Ivory Bay Development Jessica Leigh Lebos – Community Editor Connect Savannah John McMasters – Former Chatham County Commissioner, Business Owner Mark Murphy, MD – Columnist, Author, Business Owner, Gastroenterologist Pamela Oglesby – Community Activist, Business Owner, Author Robin Williams, PhD – Chairman, SCAD Architectural History Department, Author FACEBOOK : spanthegapsavannah:

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