MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Groups in Memphis came together Thursday to commemorate a year since the city’s Confederate statues were taken down, but it comes in a time of uncertainty for the parks.
The City of Memphis sold the two parks where the statues of Jefferson Davis and Nathan Bedford Forrest once stood to Memphis Greenspace, allowing for the removal of the statues.
While the fight to bring the statues down had been going on for several years, within the last few we saw the battle brought to the forefront.
Now Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer and other activists with the group Take Em Down 901 pushing for the removal.
A removal that happened before the city honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King with MLK 50.
This week, the family of Forrest filed a lawsuit against the non-profit and the city. Greenspace is already dealing with another lawsuit with the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
“We’re willing to work with the Sons or the family or both to resolve these issues,” said Van Turner, Shelby County Commissioner and President of Greenspace.
The attorney for the Forrest family said they want to work things out, too.
“We need to come to some kind of resolution to let the city of Memphis and the county move forward and to let the family move forward,” attorney H. Edward Phillips said.
The statue being located at Forrest’s and his wife’s grave site complicates the process. The attorney is not revealing where the family would want their relatives moved.
“Well, I’ll put it this way, Elmwood Cemetery is no longer on the table,” Phillips said. “The family, they don’t want any more controversy over their ancestors. They want them to be interred in a place of their choosing, at a place where they can be at peace and at rest with no one protesting them.”
As far as the future of the parks downtown and in the medical district, Turner said they’re doing what they can to make them a place everyone feels comfortable and can utilize.
“It’s a nice area, especially for the downtown park, to watch the sunset over the river,” Turner said. “Now you have the new lights on both bridges, so it’s just an ideal location for more activities, and people are contacting us to utilize the park.”