Pastors & Demonstrators Urge TN Historical Commission To Allow Confederate Statues To Be Removed

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - Take them down, or cover them up. That’s the message from Memphis pastors, who again spoke out Wednesday regarding the bluff city's two confederate statues.

 

This latest plea by clergy comes ahead of a key meeting Friday when the Tennessee Historical Commission will consider a waiver to move the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue.

Local 24's Brad Broders will be at that meeting in Athens, Tennessee. 

 

Wednesday, that group of pastors and demonstrators expressed urgency for the removal of the Confederate general’s statue.

 

Mayor Jim Strickland, who also supports the statue being moved, is taking a different approach, and preaching patience in the process.

 

Feet below the Forrest statue, which was put up in 1905 in the era of Jim Crow laws, the African-American pastors sent a crystal-clear message.

 

"It's past due to remove these relics of racism,” said New Direction Christian Church Pastor Stacy Spencer.

 

"We’re here because the citizens of Memphis agree they must come down,” says Metropolitan Baptist Church Pastor Reginald Porter.

 

“This statue perpetuates that, it reminds us that we should be quiet, it reminds us of injustices of being dehumanized,” said Centenary UMC Pastor Deborah Smith.

 

Friday morning, the 29-member Tennessee Historical Commission will consider a waiver to take down and relocate the Forrest statue. State law requires such a waiver, and a majority approval by that board, to remove any Tennessee war statue, monument, or memorial.

 

“We've got a plan, I'm working that plan, I think we've hit the sweet spot in the middle,” said Mayor Strickland. “We will push to remove these statues under the law and do it legally.”

 

Strickland will attend Friday's commission meeting, and is scheduled to give remarks. He's cautiously optimistic if a vote is taken.

 

"The statue is another instance where the entire team of Memphis and Shelby County is coming together,” says Mayor Strickland. “Conservative pastors and very progressive pastors, all coming together, and the citizens and activists coming together behind the effort to try and remove this statue, I’m hoping that message will be heard.”

 

The Memphis area Sons of Confederate Veterans will also attend Friday, providing a counter opinion on statues honoring the confederate era.

 

"The statues should not come down. It's part of our history and should stay up so people can learn from our history,” says Lee Millar with Sons of Confederate Veterans. “These statues represent our history. It’s part of Memphis, these particular ones are. Has nothing to do with race or white supremacy or Jim Crow Laws.”

 

If a vote fails Friday, the pastors want this statue at least covered up. Mayor Strickland said that’s against the law.

 

Memphis city leaders and activists also want to move downtown's Jefferson Davis statue by April's MLK50 events, but that statue's fate won't be taken up at Friday’s meeting.

 


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