Hopes To Rename Savannah’s Talmadge Bridge Face Tough Road

The resolution says former Gov. Eugene Talmadge, who the bridge is named after, is “not a reflection of modern Georgia.” 
Credit Bruce Smith / Associated Press

Savannah’s City Council passed a resolution Thursday asking state lawmakers to work on renaming the Talmadge Memorial Bridge.

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The resolution says former Gov. Eugene Talmadge is “not a reflection of modern Georgia.”

As a politician serving from the mid-1920’s to the 40’s, Talmadge made a career out of promoting white supremacy and resisting racial integration.

The latest calls to rename the bridge followed deadly violence in Charlottesville, but it’s not the city’s first attempt to galvanize state lawmakers.

Republican State Rep. Ron Stephens said he’s been down this road before.

“Actually I thought that’s what we did three years ago. We gave it a shot, we gave it a hard shot. It didn’t work and I was hoping we weren’t going to hear about it anymore,” Stephens said.

The bill he sponsored didn’t make it out of committee.

Stephens said he applauds the sentiment of the renaming attempts.

“It’s an image thing. They were trying to do something to make Savannah – which is a tourism mecca – have a more progressive face,” he said, but added that he’s wary of the perception of disparaging the Talmadge family name.

“If it’s going to pass it needs to be a Republican, but the truth is, it’s going to have a difficult way anyway,” Stephens said.

He said he’s sure someone will sponsor a new bill, but he’s not confident a new proposal would make it any further than the last time.