Memphis City Council Continues To Consider Renaming Forrest Park
(Memphis) The debate over Forrest Park in Memphis continues.
Some Memphis City Council members say Forrest Park should be renamed after Civil Rights icon Ida B. Wells.
The park is named after Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate General who also was elected the first KKK grand wizard before changing his opinion and speaking for the rights of black Americans.
This is causing a firestorm of controversy at City Hall.
Some council members not only want to change the name of the park but also remove that statue and his body which is buried underneath.
Councilwoman Janis Fullilove says Forrest Park is a shrine to the KKK, and she supports changing the name, “One man oppressed and killed black people and here is another woman who became a savior of black people.”
Myron Lowery came up with the idea of changing the park’s name, but Forrest’s supporters showed a letter Lowery wrote supporting a controversial informational marker private citizens put in the park.
The city recently removed that marker saying the citizens may have raised the $10,000 to put it there but they didn’t get proper approval.
Councilman William Boyd says he researched Forrest and says he was a world famous general, businessman and supporter of African Americans in Memphis and his ties to the KKK are misunderstood.
“He came on several years later and was elected head of the organization and wasn’t even present. He didn’t seek it or anything,” said Boyd.
Forrest supporters point to his speech before the all black “Jubilee of Pole Bearers” in Memphis in 1875 where he spoke of putting black citizens into jobs at law offices, stores and farms and gave a black woman a kiss on the cheek, which was forbidden back then.
Boyd says he wants Wells to have her own park.
The issue will be taken back up in two weeks when the ordinances’ sponsor is back in town.