HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Governor Kay Ivey released a new campaign ad on Tuesday. The 30-second television ad called "Monuments" focuses on standing up to those who want to get rid of historic monuments across Alabama. This political ad comes at a time when cities across the nation are battling with whether or not to remove or relocate Confederate monuments. The ad doesn't specifically mention Confederate monuments, but it does show two as examples.
The Governor credits herself for protecting historic monuments in the state. Ivey went as far as saying she stopped what she calls "special interests" from tearing down Alabama monuments. In 2017, Ivey signed Alabama's Memorial Preservation Act into law. The law prohibits removing, altering, or renaming public memorials that have been around for 40 years or more.
"She actually added more bureaucracy, more state control over something that was once trusted as what we considered to be local," says UAH Southern History professor John Kvach.
In the ad, three state monuments are featured. There's one that's a stark contrast from the other two. It's a monument in the Civil Rights Memorial Park in Selma. A tour guide with the Voting Rights Museum in Selma tells WHNT that the pictures represent events leading up to the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson, who died in Marion, Alabama in 1965. The monument was built in 2010, which means it's not covered under the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act. Experts say they can't remember a time when a civil rights monument was threatened.
"It's a dog whistle. It's a silent whistle to the people who want to see what you see. When you throw something up there that's not covered by the act I think not to use a modern term, but it becomes fake news. Ultimately, what you see here is branding, and it doesn't matter if it's accurate or not," says Kvach.
For Kvach, Ivey's touting of her success of protecting the monuments is troubling.
"I'm looking for a leader who is thinking forward and acknowledging the past. Not a leader who is thinking about the past and acknowledging the future," he says.
WHNT reached out to Ivey's campaign. We wanted to know why the Civil Rights Monument, not protected under the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act was included in her ad.
The Governor responded saying, "Our ad highlights a law passed by the legislature that I signed to protect our historical monuments. We can't - and we shouldn't - change, erase, or tear down history. We should learn from all of it."