Birmingham City Councilwoman Sheila Tyson is making national headlines for going on a bizarre rant questioning why the Magic City would help fund a Holocaust memorial as it would honor people who are dead.
“Dead is dead, right?” she asked, referring to the similarities between a memorial to the Holocaust and the local Shadow Lawn cemetery.
“Isn’t it still for dead people,” Tyson continued . “It is for dead people. Aren’t the people they are memorializing deceased?”
The proposed Holocaust memorial could go in a garden space on 19th Street at 3rd Avenue North. The city was asking council to move $45,500 from youth services to help clear the lot. The Birmingham Holocaust Education Center (BHEC) raised private funds to build the memorial.
But Councilwoman Tyson had more questions.
“What’s the difference?” she asked.
“I hope we can come together as a city,” said Rebecca Dobrinski, the memorial center’s executive director.
The memorial would honor victims of the Holocaust that had ties to Birmingham.
“Our Holocaust memorial garden, while it does honor those who perished, it is also telling the stories of those who survived and came to Birmingham and Alabama their home,” Dobrinski explained.
“It is meant to teach the community of the consequences of prejudice and hate,” Dobrinski continued. “That is the lesson of the Holocaust. Our goal is to teach the lessons of the Holocaust … so that we do not go down that slippery slope of hate again.”
City Council decided to table the issue for another week until the project’s developer could answer questions for Tyson and other reluctant officials.
In response to the council meeting, the BHEC posted the following Wednesday on Facebook:
The BHEC was surprised and disappointed by the reaction of the Birmingham City Council during the meeting on Tuesday, June 21. The BHEC has been working with representatives from the City for over two years on the Holocaust Garden project. The purpose of the Holocaust Garden is not only to remember those who perished during the Holocaust, to honor those survivors who settled in Birmingham and Alabama after the war, but especially to teach the history and lessons of the Holocaust. Our goal with the Garden is for it to be a tool to educate our community on the consequences of prejudice and discrimination so that future generations do not go down that same slippery slope of hate.
Watch the video of the council meeting here: