In a city that has two statues honoring people involved with the Confederacy, and no statue of Doctor Martin Luther King…the goal continues to try and have these statues gone by next April. the 50th anniversary of Doctor King’s assasination.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland says he’s never seen any one thing unify Memphis as much as the issue of the Jefferson Davis and Nathan Bedford Forrest statues.
At the Tennessee Historical Commission meeting last Friday, several folks from Memphis said they did not want to take the statues down. Elizabeth Adams, a retired history teacher scolded the members of the Historical Commission, saying
“The next thing you all will want to remove are the crosses from our many churches. When does the insanity stop?”
The meeting became a bit surreal when an African-American man named H.K. Edgerton, wearing a Confederate soldiers uniform, had a few things to say to the commission….at one point angrily pointing out the unusual opinion that “General Nathan Bedford Forrest was a friend to the African people.’
This is the environment that exists as Memphis City Council members meet Tuesday.
There are several things they can do.
They can vote to do nothing until a November court hearing.
They can vote to cover the statues so they can’t be seen.
Birmingham, Alabama did that.
Or they can vote to remove them…saying the statues violate constitutional rights of African Americans to
enjoy city parks without dealing with memories of people who favored slavery.
Pastor Keith Norman of Memphis, a member of the commission, expects a long court battle…but not necessarily an ugly one.
“There will be appeals,” he says, “… we’re sure of that. We want to hear the sentiments of all people. Reverend Norman went on to say “I don’t believe the people who are for this issue are filled with hate or its a racist issue. Many of them bring the proper perspective of history.”
Mayor Jim Strickland remains confident the statues will be removed before April 4th next year.