MEMPHIS, TN - (WMC-TV) – Three controversial Memphis parks
have been re-named by the city council in a twist to an historic fight brought
on by Nashville lawmakers.
The statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest on his horse sits in the park
now named Health Sciences Park. Three confederate named parks now have
new names after the Memphis City Council refused to bow to intrusion from
"It's just a bad idea to rename historic parks," Lee Millar
with the Sons of Confederate Veterans said. "Memphis has got a great history
and these parks are over 100 years old."
But that's exactly what Memphis City Council members did by
changing the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest Park. The park, named after a
one-time Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and located in the medical district
was changed to Health Sciences Park. Confederate Park downtown was changed
to Memphis Park and Jefferson Davis park also in downtown was renamed
Mississippi River Park.
"This is going on all over the country, revisionist history.
It's the thing to do," said Shelby County resident Becky Muska.
"I am glad we circumvented Nashville and that we can make our
own decisions," Memphis City Council member Kemp Conrad said.
The vote came as council members feared state legislators might
pass legislation stopping any efforts to rename Forrest Park to Forrest Wells
Park in honor of anti-lynching crusader Ida B. Wells.
"The Republicans in Nashville have no control over what we do
as far as our city is concerned," Memphis City Council member Janis Fullilove
The council decided to change the names of the park in a
resolution and not an ordinance so three readings would not be necessary. The
park names can still be changed to something else.
"I don't think there is much of any chance that they'll go
back to the names that sparked a lot of controversy," Memphis City Council
member Lee Harris said. "I don't think we're going back to Nathan Bedford
Forrest Park, no."
What about the statue in Forrest Park and the fact that he and his
wife are buried here? The city council members we talked with said they don't
care if the statues stay in the parks, but no decision has been made on that.
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