Councilmember takes first step to remove Nathan Bedford Forrest statue from a city park
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Charleston church massacre has revived longtime controversies over the Confederacy, and in Memphis, the Nathan Bedford Forrest memorial proved to be the city’s ground zero.
Memphis Councilman Myron Lowery was certain enough people want to remove the giant statue sitting in the middle of a Medical District public park.
It’s of Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was a Confederate Lieutenant General, an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan and a slave trader.
His grave is there too.
“Bigotry and hatred does not have to be glorified on public property,” said Lowery.
He drew up an ordinance to present to a City Council Committee on Tuesday.
If everything goes as he planned, the Council could agree to move the statue by September.
Then the state’s Historical Commission would have to sign off, because a recent state law made it illegal for cities to remove or change any monument honoring certain wars including the Civil War.
Keep in mind, a grave would also involved, so it’s likely Chancery Court would have to sign off too.
“What I say to those people who disagree, walk a mile in my shoes and the shoes of millions of other African-Americans who feel this way,” said Lowery.
Not everyone WREG spoke with wants the statue moved.
There have been talk of protests just like one that happened in 2013 when the KKK and others opposed changing the name from Forrest Park to Health Sciences Park.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans has sued the city over the naming issue, which is why no one from that organization would talk with us Wednesday about moving the monument.
However last week, one member told WREG if it’s approved, the battle would far from over.
“If it requires legal action, then that’s always an option,” said Lee Millar.
Lowery said he has yet to receive any opposition on his ordinance.