MEMPHIS, Tenn.– The City of Memphis wants to get rid of the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest at the park that was once named after him.
Forrest was a General in the Confederate army and was the first Grand Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan.
City Councilman Myron Lowery told WREG he has drafted an ordinance to present before the City Council that would propose moving the statue and grave sites of Forrest and his wife to Elmwood Cemetery.
According to Lowery and Mayor A C Wharton that is the location Forrest wanted to be buried.
However in order to move the statue the council would have to get approval by the Tennessee Historical Commission.
“Even if a waiver is granted the commission needs to be concerned with how history will be presented in the best way,” said Paul Matthews, who is a member of the Historical Commission.
The statue sits in the Health Sciences Park which is considered a historical site so Matthews and 23 other people representing the three grand divisions of Tennessee would have to approve the move to Elmwood Cemetery.
“Why now? Times have changed, people have changed and attitudes have changed,” said Council member Myron Lowery.
However there’s no telling when he will see that change.
According to the Heritage Protection Act of 2013 statues like Forrest’s are protected.
The city must submit a waiver to the Tennessee Historical Commission.
From there the 24 members, appointed by the governor decides what happens.
The commissions next meeting is in October.
If it receives a request for the city by then, there’s no timeline for an answer.
They meet three times a year.
“I think the commission is probably gonna wanna take a long view and not just react to the application based on current events,” said Matthews.
As far as the graves go, legally the family would have to be notified if the property owner said the area they are in is abandoned or neglected.
A man who said he is a family member of Forrest’s told WREG he is against the move.
He said he can see where some people are coming from with the push to move it but the statue represents an important part of American history.
The issue could be brought before Chancery Court.
A spokesperson with the Sons of Confederate Veterans said there is no proof Forrest was ever a member of the Klu Klux Klan and said he was an important part of Memphis’ history.
He said not only is Forrest’s military leadership still studied but he was a city councilman and helped rebuild the city after the war.