I want to ask you to sign a petition.
If you care about social justice and racial equality then I think you’ll be excited to sign it.
They’re planning to expand on a public monument to Nathan Bedford Forrest (pictured here) in Selma, Alabama.
But why should you care?
You’ve likely never been to Selma. Likely not even Alabama. And my guess is that ‘public monuments’ are not your hobby.
But you might care a lot after I tell you about it.
And I’ll tell you in a moment . . .
But let me step back. If I had to define marketing in a sentence, I’d borrow the words of Mac Ross, ‘Marketing is about establishing the value of something beyond the apparent.’ You could also say, when speaking about larger social issues, that marketing is about establishing the importance of something beyond the immediately apparent.
Something like a public monument in a town you’ve never been to.
You might have a product or service, or work for a larger cause that people don’t seem to ‘get’ right away. It can take some explaining for people to really understand it’s value and importance. And the role of marketing is to shorten the distance between you starting the explanation and them ‘getting it’. To make that happen faster. To have it register more deeply.
It’s easy to complain about how people don’t get it. But, as they say, don’t get bitter – get better.
If people don’t value your services or support your cause like you think they should, that’s not their fault. It might be yours.
And sometimes you need the help of others to educate. We simply can’t do it all ourselves.
Which is why I’m reaching out to you and writing this blog post.
Because of my dear friend Malika Fortier in Selma (pictured here). I met Malika in 1999 at an event I hosted for young change makers. She has always been one of the most powerful, loving and honest people I know. She’s a friend who’s willing to push you and challenge you. She strives to practice unconditional love and uncompromising truth. She’s a wonderful mother. I love her so much.
And she is a black woman living in a country (the USA) where racism is far from gone, in a town where racism is still very much alive and in your face. And I want something better for her. And for her children. For all of us.
But this moment around this monument is a chance to bring national attention. It even creates a possibility to have a national conversation about the true state of the union.
People know Selma as a city where Dr. Martin Luther King fought for civil rights. Selma was, in fact, the launching point for pivotal protests that hurtled the voting rights movement into the national spotlight. It is also a city of tragedy: thousands of students, religious leaders, and families fighting for civil rights in Selma were arrested, injured, or brutally killed.
Many have been outraged and saddened to learn that Selma’s city council is sitting idly by as a local group expands a public monument to Nathan Bedford Forrest.
And who is Nathan Bedford Forrest?
He is a founder of the Ku Klux Klan.
The president of the city council is actually also president of Friends of Forrest (which many consider to be a hate group).
Monuments celebrating violent racism and intolerance have no place in this world, let alone in a city like Selma, where the families of those attacked by the Klan still live.
Nathan Bedford Forrest was a Confederate military leader, a founding member of the KKK, and the first Grand Wizard of the KKK. He wasn’t even from Selma — why should Selma be honoring his shameful legacy of racial segregation and genuine terrorism?
You feel differently about the public monument now don’t you?
And of course, this is a marketing issue for the town of Selma itself.
If Selma wants be viewed by the rest of the country as forward-thinking, they simply cannot give in to those who pine for the “good ole days” of the 1860s. This monument has blighted Selma for far too long. Please join me in calling on the Selma city council to remove the monument celebrating Ku Klux Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forrest.
In the last few days, working with change.org, they’ve gotten more than 66,000 signatures on this petition, and we’re generating more and more local and national press coverage. They’ve also launched a website, and built a social networking presence.
Will you join us?