Park Renaming Committee Meets For the First Time

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(Memphis) A committee formed to rename three confederate-related parks met for the first time Friday at 4:00p.m.

Their next meeting, Monday, April 1st at 4:30p.m., will be at the city hall council chambers. The public is invited at that time to give input.

The nine-member committee included history professors, specialized in the civil war or African-American history.

Even experts on the time period however, could not agree on the same version of events, or the same view of Nathan Bedford Forrest, the original namesake of one of the parks in question.

Councilman Harold Collins, one of two council members on this committee, said, “In that room, we have two history professors. And both of them were quoting history from a different perspective but using the same person. And so I'm sitting there going, is that just like the Bible or what?”

Several members voiced support for adding more historical figures and information to the parks, giving them context for becoming educational places about the civil war.

Pastor Keith Norman, one of the committee members, said that adding more people to honor does not address whether it is appropriate to glorify someone in statue form, rather than leaving them to the history textbook.

Another committee member referenced the statue of Joe Paterno, the coach at Pennsylvania State University. Paterno’s statue was taken down, in spite of his great accomplishments, because the institution felt his image was now associated with a child sex abuse scandal.

“If you have the park, have the discussion of Forrest be an accurate discussion. And not just a man on a white horse, or a bronze horse. That doesn't say a whole lot,” said Beverly Bond, one of the two history professors on the committee.

Yet the other history professor suggested returning the original names to the parks to honor the mayor and political movement that created the parks to begin with.

Conversations also led to discussing the true intent of the Civil War, only to be re-focused by other members of the committee, reminding everyone to think of what is best for Memphis now.

Collins said, “All we have to do is remember that our mission is bigger than our opinions.”