The word accountable has a friendlier ring to it when applied to someone other than oneself. Used in a statement such as, “Today I will hold myself accountable for making a positive difference in the world,” it feels more nakedly ominous than courageous or inspiring.
Simply put, it means acceptance of responsibility for a specific action or desired outcome. That can be a good or bad thing depending on motives and results involved. In the example at hand, the motive is pursuit of social justice and the desired result is a long-sought correction of history.
400 Girl Scouts and House Resolution 1054
The concept of accountability has my full attention at present because of the admirable way some 400 Girl Scouts made their way to the Georgia State capital to urge lawmakers to remove the late white supremacist Eugene Talmadge’s name from the impressive bridge spanning the Savannah River between the city and Hutchison Island, and replace it with that of their founder: Juliette Gordon Low. With the scouts symbolically and strategically at this side, Rep. Ron Stephens (R-GA) on February 6, 2018, introduced House Resolution 1054: “A RESOLUTION honoring the life of Ms. Juliette Gordon Low and dedicating a bridge in her memory; and for other purposes.”
Joining Stephens, a republican, on the bill’s sponsorship were five democrats: Rep. Gloria Frazier, Rep. Carl Gilliard, Rep. Mickey Stephens, Rep. Al Williams, and Rep. Teri Anulewicz.
The Girl Scouts’ highly-commendable move won them much applause across the nation. It also prompted questions concerning why African-American leaders and community members in Savannah and throughout Georgia have done so little to protest the current name of the bridge or have it changed. Why, for example, in a city famous for its majority-black population, was the African-American presence in the audience at the historic Symposium to Rename the Talmadge Bridge held at the Savannah Theater on September 5, 2017, so overwhelmingly under-represented? As in clearly, visibly, a lot less than half the attendees?