GULF BREEZE, Fla. (WKRG) — The debate continued Wednesday night over what the name should be for the new Pensacola Bay bridge when it’s complete in 2021.
The current bridge is named after Philip D. Beall, Sr. who is a former state senate president and a man who many have called a white supremacist.
The majority of the people at the public hearing in Gulf Breeze want the bridge to be named after Pensacola native “Chappie” James who was the first African-American Four Star General in the United States Air Force.
“He represents the true ideal of what the Air Force stands for..Integrity, Service and Excellence,” one man said.
“I know well what Chappie James did and it was magnificent,” another veteran told the Bridge Naming Committee.
One man went to the podium to speak against keeping the Beall name on the bridge.
“In 1935, he introduced a bill in the Senate to bar black citizens from voting in Democratic primaries,” he said.
Beall’s grandson was there to defend him and acknowledged his grandfather did introduce that bill and said it was wrong. He asked to keep his name on it or have both James and Beall’s names on it together.
“I’m sincerely asking all of you nine people to make sure that my family is left with dignity because throughout this whole thing since January, that has been the complete opposite,” he said.
The committee will meet again July 9 to discuss and choose a name.