Confederate supporter up in arms
March 1, 2005
By Alvin Benn
SELMA — A Selma woman known in Alabama for her support of the Confederacy and the first leader of the Ku Klux Klan wants to know who added "Wizardess" to her name in a Christmas card addressed to her from Gov. Bob Riley. Riley has written a letter of apology to Patricia Godwin, but she called it "generic" and wants the responsible party fired.
"I am highly offended," Godwin said Monday. "Nothing about my life warrants such an attack on my character and my reputation as a defender of my Southern heritage."
Godwin, who is a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and helped create a group named for a female Confederate spy, said one of Riley’s aides took "full responsibility for the unprofessional act committed against me."
"I state most emphatically and adamantly that I am not a member of the KKK, do not know of any one who is a member and, to my knowledge, never have known anyone who is or was a member of such organization," Godwin said.
She said Sandra Lucas, director of the governor’s constituent affairs office, did not indicate who might have added "Wizardess" to her name, but has "guaranteed" Riley that "this will not happen again."
"How can she ‘guarantee’ this if she does not know precisely who did this?" asked Godwin. "How did my name trigger that one brain cell in somebody’s head and attach such a title to my name?"
Godwin said she told Lucas, whose office handles constituent matters, that "if this had happened to (state Rep.) Alvin Holmes, he would have called a press conference on the steps of the Capitol and demanded her head."
In a letter to Godwin on Jan. 4, Riley said: "I wish to extend my apologies for grievances caused by an improperly addressed correspondence sent to you from my office. Thank you for taking the time to express your concerns."
Godwin accused Riley and his staff of being "very evasive and nonchalant about this" and said the governor "has fluffed me off like dandruff on his shoulder."
Jeff Emerson, Riley’s communications director, said Monday afternoon that an "error" had been made "and the governor has conveyed apologies (to Godwin)."
"The letter was not generic and (Godwin) was contacted by members of the governor’s staff and an apology was issued," Emerson said. "She is no longer referred to with that title on our database."
Godwin said she became ill in December and was unable to pursue her search for "the guilty party" but resumed her efforts in January.
She said she may file a request under the Freedom of Information Act to find the source "from which they typed my name and address with this offensive title into the database for the envelopes to be addressed."
Godwin said she has been unable to speak to Riley personally or to his top aides — Chief of Staff Toby Roth or Executive Assistant Elaine LeFleur. She said she gets a "runaround" each time she calls the governor’s office.
"Yes, I want to know who did this and yes, I want them to lose their job over it," she said.
Godwin last week placed a wreath on the monument honoring Gen. Nathan Bedford Forest, who became the first imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan after the end of the Civil War. Forrest led an unsuccessful defense of Selma in one of the final battles of the war.
She helped found the Alabama chapter of the Order of Confederate Rose in honor of Rose O’Neal Greenhow, who served as a spy for the Confederacy.
Copyright © 1997- 2005 The Advertiser Co