A lot of good folks think we should leave the statues where they are. (The numbers may surprise you.)
Our very own Jim Burt may have come up with the perfect solution:
“My wife and I are both originally from Memphis,” hew writes. “Close to the downtown area, the city has a park now called ‘Health Sciences Park’ – because of the proximity of the University of Tennessee medical school – which used to be called ‘Forrest Park.’ It features a large equestrian bronze statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest. The City of Memphis has been trying to remove it, but its efforts have been frustrated by a state historical commission empowered by the Republican state government to prevent such removals. This is what I wrote to the city’s most prominent newspaper (for which my father worked for many years):
I am a white former resident of Memphis and have fond memories of playing as a toddler in Forrest Park. I did not at that age appreciate that the park was named after a monster.
Since the Tennessee Historical Commission is performing its assigned racist task of frustrating the removal of racist monuments, I suggest that the next best action — which should be entirely within the authority of the City of Memphis — is to correct the historical record on the Forrest statue. The name on the pedestal should have the word “Traitor” added in large letters, and the account on the pedestal of his deeds should be supplemented prominently with the information that he was a slave merchant, war criminal, and founder of the terrorist organization, the Ku Klux Klan. It should also note that the statue was erected in 1904 as an expression of the power of Jim Crow and the subjugation of African Americans.
After all, the supporters of keeping these statues claim that they’re about “history, not hate.” Just get all the history out there where it can be seen.
☞ What say you?