People have said they think the statue of General Nathan Bedford Forrest stares at them. It would be an amazing fact, since he’s been dead for more than 120 years.
The bronze statue still sits in what used to be Forrest Park. Controversy has swirled around the granite base of the general.
This is not just a statue, this is where Forrest and his wife are buried. It’s the same statue former Memphis Mayor A C Wharton wanted removed.
The one constant thing has been the spokesman for the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
“There’s been an effort by the city to have the statue here in Forrest Park moved some place else,” says Sons of Confederate Veterans spokesman Lee Millar. “They appealed to the Tennessee Historical Commission for a waiver of the Heritage Protection Act which protects all military monuments all across the state.”
The park had its name changed a few years ago, and is officially called Health and Sciences park, but Millar has always called it and will probably always call it Forrest Park, which was its name for a century.
While we were there, three men walked up to the statue, put their hard hats over their hearts, and appeared to pray at the statue.
Millar says, “Memphis doesn’t need the criticism. Everybody’s history should be appreciated and we should leave the monuments up everywhere. Everybody’s monuments.”
In Virginia and Louisiana, Confederate monuments were just taken down. In Memphis, people on both sides have taken the issue to court.
Lawyer Allan Wade, who is handling this case for the city, says the goal is to remove the statue and let somebody else have it. “I don’t telegraph my moves,” Wade says, when asked what his next move would be. “I’m like Donald Trump that way (laughs). I don’t tell folks what we’re doing, but we’re working on it actively.”