MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - One hundred fifty names. Black ministers, white ministers, rabbi's, all in agreement. You can't help but notice the names. A cross section of Memphis, all in agreement on the statue of General Nathan Bedford Forrest. They want the Tennessee Historical Commission to allow the city of Memphis to take it down.
They hope the commission takes their letter as serious. They take it seriously.
Reverend LaSimba Gray of New Sardis Baptist Church signed it. "I think it's important," he said, "... because the symbolism really carries a message. It perpetuates a mind set and the statues need to be removed."
Across town at Hope Presbyterian Church, the feelings are similar. Reverend Dr. Eli Morris says his reason for signing is simple. "Well, this is my city, and I love this city and I want what's best for our city and for all of our citizens."
The letter will be given to members of the Tennessee Historical Commission at their October 13th meeting. It's not even known if the commission will discuss the Forrest statue.
But a critic says the clergy letter is just politics, nothing else."I think its not hard to see this is a political ploy," says Reverend Earle Fisher of Abyssinian Missionary Baptist Church,"... an attempt to corrupt the grass roots movement and give some leverage to an administration that is still yearning for a more inclusive representation."
City attorney Bruce McMullen sent a letter to the Executive Director of the Tennessee Historical Commission Wednesday. In it, McMullen says the city will allow the issue to be discussed with commissioners using criteria that is currently under review by the Attorney General. This indicates how much they want this issue to be discussed at the October 13th meeting.
Mayor Jim Strickland wants to talk to commission members. We were told last week that it was doubtful that Governor Bill Haslam would attend the October 13th meeting.