City In A Race With The State Over Forrest Park Name Change

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(Memphis) The debate continues to grow over the name changing of Nathan Bedford Forest Park.

In a committee meeting, dozens against the name change came to voice their opinions.

This all began several weeks ago, when a council member Myron Lowery proposed they change the name of Forrest Park to Forrest-Wells Park.

Ida B. Wells is a well known educator who fought for civil rights.

“He was only in the slave trade for a couple of years that was just part of business in those days,” said Lee Miller from the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

There were also history professors that spoke in support of the name change,  that painted a very different picture of Forrest.

“Prior to the Civil War, Forrest wasn't only a slave owner but a slave trader. He engaged in the open human trafficking of human bodies,” said University of Memphis professor Aram Goudsouzian.

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.

City Council members are in a race with the state legislature.

Two legislators have proposed a bill that would prevent any park, statue or monument named after a war from being changed.

Before that bill is voted on, city council members hope to approve a resolution this evening that would change the names of three city parks: Forrest Park, Confederate Park and Jefferson Davis Park.

“Generic names of the park.  We call one Union Avenue park, we call the other one Front Street park, we call the other one north Riverside Drive park and we would call it a day.  We would avoid a lot of the contentiousness, a lot of the decisiveness,” said councilman Lee Harris.

The council will take up the resolution at tonight’s council meeting.

They will also have the first reading of an ordinance to change the name of Forrest Park to Forrest-Wells Park.