SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Savannah City Council has voted unanimously to ask the state to rename the Talmadge Bridge to The Savannah River Bridge.
Mayor DeLoach reiterated that council needs to be on the right side of history and to approve the resolution. He began by reading a verse from Ecclesiastes to help articulate that he believes, along with others on council, that this is the time for the bridge spanning the Savannah River to be renamed.
To help show support for council and their decision, former Savannah Mayor Otis Johnson got up and said a few words, along with Ron Christopher from "Span the Gap", a group instrumental in helping to come up with the new name.
For several council members, this is their second time voting on this resolution, one of them being District 1 Alderman Van Johnson.
"These types of names, these types of symbols that are reminders of our past... our very difficult past... images of hate, are not accepted. And we are saying in Savannah, we want to be a bridge to the future, not a bridge to the past," Alderman Johnson said.
The alderman said with national movements, this year might be the year that the resolution gets traction at the state capital. Council is now hoping Chatham County Commission will follow suit, to send a united message with the local state delegation for the next session.
The bridge is currently named after Eugene Talmadge, who was a three-term governor in Georgia who publicly held racist and segregationist views. Talmadge was a Democratic politician who served two terms as the 67th Governor of Georgia from 1933 to 1937, and a third term from 1941 to 1943. He was elected to a fourth term in November 1946, but died before his inauguration.
Efforts to rename the bridge to something more inclusive have been ongoing for decades. We know that Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach's predecessor tried changing the name of the bridge, but former Mayor Edna Jackson says politics got involved once the issue reached the capitol.
Renaming the bridge came back into the spotlight after the deadly and violent protests erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia last month.