Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Confederate General’s Final Stand Divides Memphis - The New York Times

In 1905 - one of the darkest post Civil War periods for African Americans - the white citizens of Memphis created a park, re-interred the remains, and commissioned a heroic statute of the slave trader and Confederate general Nathan Forrest.  In 2013 Tennessee created a law prohibiting changes in historical monuments.  Now the City Council of Memphis has asked the Historical Commission for permission to remove Forest's remains and the statue.  Seems only fair.  But isn't the statue important historical evidence of the deeply racist history of Tennessee?
The National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis marks the spot where Rev. Martin Luther King was murdered.  But that is a Black initiative.  What Tennessee needs - and America needs - is for white people to acknowledge the African American experience and practice humility.  - gwc
A Confederate General’s Final Stand Divides Memphis - The New York Times
by Emily Yellin
MEMPHIS — What people see when they look up at the towering statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest in a park near downtown Memphis usually depends on their deepest beliefs, their memories, their loyalties and maybe even their DNA.
Many see a Memphis slave trader, the original grand wizard of theKu Klux Klan and a war criminal who led a gruesome Confederate massacre of surrendered black and white Union troops at nearby Fort Pillow in 1864.
Others see a gallant but misunderstood Civil War general, a military genius and a hero who made a speech calling for racial reconciliation in 1875. And some passers-by have little or no idea who the guy on the horse is, and do not much care.

But this month, the Memphis City Council voted unanimously to begin an intricate process of removing the brass statue from the park — along with the remains of Forrest and his wife, encased since 1905 in its marble base. This effort joins a national wave of casting off Confederate icons since the massacre last month at a church in Charleston, S.C.

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