Otis Sanford: Governor needs to apply political muscle on statue issue

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis City Council is stepping up efforts to remove monuments to the confederacy from city-owned parks.

The long standing effort, which is gaining momentum, won`t be easy, but it could be helped along if Governor Bill Haslam showed a much greater sense of urgency.

The governor has been a strong supporter of Memphis throughout his nearly seven years in office, and he agrees that the statues of Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jefferson Davis should be moved out of city parks.

But Governor Haslam could do a lot more by encouraging the Tennessee Historical Commission to grant a waiver that would allow the city to relocate the statues. Yet, he`s unwilling to do that. And with the conservative makeup of the legislature, a special session to overturn the law banning removal of the statues would be useless.

Meanwhile, the Memphis City Council is pondering four options for what to do with the statues. Destroying them is out of the question. So the most reasonable option seems to be putting more pressure on the governor to change his mind about seeking a quick waiver from the commission.

The fact is, it does no good for Governor Haslam to give lip service to removing the statues without applying some political muscle.

Despite the loud cries to the contrary, these statues memorializing slavery and racial oppression must go and the sooner, the better.