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UPDATE: Controversial billboard on Highway 80 scheduled to come down by the end of Thanksgiving

PEARL, Miss.- A billboard quoting “Make America Great Again” has gone up on Highway 80 in Pearl, causing controversy among motorists. 

The billboard displays a photo taken during the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. The day is also known as “Bloody Sunday,” when police and protesters faced off over voting rights for African Americans.

The display also shows the sign was paid for by the organization For Freedoms, and is not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

However, Pearl Mayor Brad Rogers recently announced that while the billboard does not violate any laws or city ordinances it will be coming down. Originally he said there was nothing the city could do, but he put in a call to For Freedoms last Friday and they agreed to take it down by the end of the week.

The ad was placed on a Lamar Advertising billboard to which they told local media that they saw no problem with it and that everyone is entitled to freedom of speech.

News Mississippi reached out to one of the co-founders of For Freedoms, Hank Thomas, for a comment on the signage.

“The decision to put it up in Pearl was really because we wanted to put it up along 80 which was part of the site that people walked along in 65 in the march from Selma,” said Thomas. “We could not get a billboard in Alabama for some reason but we know the history of the fight for voting rights is connected in Alabama and Mississippi.”

Thomas said the photo depicts a moment when police decided to attack a group of protesters, including Congressman John Lewis who were marching.

“I think it was created to spark a dialogue for what it means when we say ‘Make America Great Again,'” said Thomas.

He said while he hasn’t seen it in person he is reminded of a time in history when people joined together in peaceful protest to call out the federal and state government for denying the civil liberties and rights of individuals.

For Freedoms is an organization started to encourage new forms of critical discourse that surrounded the 2016 election. Their mission, to support the effort to reshape American Democracy into a more transparent representative form. They do this primarily through art and artists.

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