Jackson dons a cap supporting the Girl Scouts as he speaks at a press conference in Atlanta Monday,March 12, 2018, joined with other state legislators, where Girl Scouts presented more than 10,000 signatures that support renaming the Talmadge Memorial Bridge in Savanah after the Girl Scouts founder, Juliette Gordon Low. (Bob Andres/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Georgia’s Girl Scouts may be earning a new badge for persistence.

Standing beside a bipartisan group of legislators, a small group of scouts returned to the state Capitol on Monday to once again ask lawmakers to get their founder’s name affixed to a Savannah bridge that currently honors a white segregationist. They had also brought with them about 10,000 petitions that had been signed in favor of their cause.

Despite the presence of hundreds of scouts in the Capitol last month, efforts to remove former Gov. Eugene Talmadge’s name from the bridge and replace it with that of Savannah native Juliette Gordon Low have stalled. Neither a House nor Senate resolution on the issue has received a floor vote this session, which ends March 29.

The organization held its latest news conference on the issue Monday, in honor of the day that Low founded the organization 106 years ago.

“You deserve a vote,” Rep. Al Williams, a Democrat from Midway, told the scouts. “Georgia … deserves to have a bridge that is not named divisively, but named for someone who brings all of us together.”

Talmadge, a populist Democrat who served three terms between 1933 and 1942, railed against the New Deal for offering blacks hope of economic parity with whites. He once proclaimed a black man’s place was “at the back door with his hat in his hand.”

The span crossing the Savannah River at the Georgia-South Carolina line has borne Talmadge’s name since 1956. The old bridge was replaced by a new bridge in 1991 and the name carried over. But Rep. Ron Stephens, a Republican from Savannah, said the new bridge was never formally named after the governor.

Stephens is using that technicality to secure backers of his proposal for the new name.

“We’re looking to for the first time name this bridge, not rename it,” he said. “We’re not going to give up.”


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