Applaud City Council for Renaming Confederate-themed Parks

640px-Forrest_Park_Memphis_TN_08

Target: The City Council of Memphis, Tennessee

Goal: To commend the Memphis City Council for renaming public parks originally named after pro-slavery leaders of the Confederacy.

City Council members in Memphis, Tennessee agree that public parks should be places for residents and their families to enjoy, not a place to honor men who promoted and committed violent acts against African Americans. The council members recently approved the renaming of three public parks originally named after pro-slavery Confederate war “heroes” and the Confederate cause. Show your support for this important decision.

The most controversially named park was known as Forrest Park named after Nathan Bedford Forrest, which will be renamed Health Sciences Park. Confederate Park will be changed to Memphis Park, and Jefferson Davis Park will become Mississippi River Park. As part of its effort to give more positive names to the parks, Memphis City Council also created a committee to collaborate on the naming issue. According to the Commercial Appeal Newspaper, the committee will include two council members, two university professors, a representative from the NAACP, a member of the Shelby County Historical Commission and the city parks director.

The shameful histories of the parks’ previous namesakes are no secret. Nathan Bedford Forrest was not only a cavalry leader for the Confederate side, but also a slave trader and held the position of the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan after the Civil War. He was also responsible for the massacre of approximately 300 black men, women, and children at Ft. Pillow in 1864. The park previously known as Forrest Park is also the grave site of Forrest and showcases a large statue of the man on horseback. Jefferson Davis was elected the president of the secessionist Confederate States of America and his pro-slavery views are well documented, even claiming that slaves were “comfortable and happy” on plantations.

The renaming of these parks was long overdue. The actions of the City Council is not an attempt to “rewrite” history or take away the heritage of Southerners, but to simply refuse to honor the detestable events that took place during the Civil War. All residents of Memphis will now be able to proudly enjoy the parks without honoring the atrocities committed in the name of slavery.

Sign the petition below to commend the Memphis City Council members for taking this positive action.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Memphis City Council members,

We applaud your decision to rename the parks previously known as Forrest Park, Confederate Park, and Davis Park. The actions of the City Council is not an attempt to “rewrite” history or take away the heritage of Southerners, but to simply refuse to honor the detestable events that took place during the Civil War. Public parks should be places for residents and their families to enjoy, not a place to honor men who promoted and committed violent acts against African Americans. Though small, renaming these public places is a symbolic step in the right direction towards bridging race relations in the American South.

The renaming of these parks was long overdue. All residents of Memphis will now be able to proudly enjoy the parks without honoring the atrocities committed in the name of slavery. Nathan Bedford Forrest will not be honored for his participation in the massacre of hundreds of African Americans and his position as the grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, nor will Jefferson Davis be revered for his commitment to the institution of slavery in America.

We know that your decision is not supported by some Memphis residents, Tennessee lawmakers, and supporters of the Confederate cause, but the right choices are often unpopular. All residents of Memphis will now be able to proudly enjoy the parks without honoring the atrocities committed in the name of slavery. Thank you.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: DoxTxob via Wikimedia Commons

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4 Comments

  1. Shane Parrish says:

    This is ridiculous, petty and ignorant. Madison, Jefferson and Monroe were all slave holders. Maybe we should change those street names as well. I mean, when’s it all gonna stop? Martin Luther King Jr. was an adulterer, does he deserve so much praise? Those park names were part of the history of Memphis and you can’t change that. The fact you want to cover up history offends me.

  2. Caroline Gelatt says:

    Sad day in America and Memphis when we have to remove any mention of our Southern Histoy because it offends some. You can’t learn from your mistakes if you pretend it never happened.

  3. Rhonda Clark says:

    I find this humorous. Just another example of people sticking their noses into events that are none of their concern. Ms. Bockrath has no idea the entire story that sparked the park renaming frenzy. She also failed to report the outcry from many in the African-American community who opposed the renaming of these parks. That list included the president of the local chapter of the NAACP. So before you sign online petitions, or swallow articles like this as whole-hearted truth, be sure to check the facts.

  4. Lisa Pemberton says:

    This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard of!!! You cannot change history!! DO NOT CHANGE THE NAMES!!!!!The thought of this offends ME!!!

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