Mayor Won’t Revisit Civil War at Parks in Memphis
The mayor Wednesday rejected calls to rename three parks that honor the Confederacy, saying the city should focus on being part of the New South and stop worrying about remnants of the Old South.
Mayor Willie Herenton said public fighting over the parks would only hurt the city’s image, still tarnished by the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.
“We do not need another event that portrays Memphis nationally as a city still racially polarized and fighting the Civil War all over again,” he said.
Forrest Park, Confederate Park and Jefferson Davis Park contain statues of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan.
Herenton said he would ask the City Council to give the parks to the University of Tennessee and a nonprofit corporation helping to develop the city’s riverfront.
If the university or the development corporation want to rename the parks, “that’s their decision,” the mayor said.
The university issued a statement reserving comment until the mayor’s proposal could be reviewed.