Opinion: Governor’s actions on statues shows political courage

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Governor Bill Haslam is following up his words with tangible action when it comes to trying to remove Confederate symbols from public spaces.

The governor fired off a letter on Monday to the state Historical Commission urging the group to act faster on requests to move the statues. If approved, one waiver from the city of Memphis would allow for the removal of the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue in Health Sciences Park.

The commission has been foot-dragging on the city`s request after originally denying it. Now, Governor Haslam has intervened on Memphis` behalf. Despite some news reports, Haslam did not urge the commission to actually grant the waiver, but merely asked that the panel vote on the request at its October meeting rather than wait until February of next year.

The governor is on record as saying that city leaders should have the right to decide what is in city owned parks. He also believes the Forrest statue should go both here and from the halls of the state Capitol. All of this is subjecting Haslam to fierce criticism by backward thinking individuals who want the monuments to stay put. Kudos to the governor for showing political courage, and come next April, when Memphis is commemorating the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King`s assassination, the statues of Forrest and Jefferson Davis need to be standing somewhere else.