Councilman proposes name change for Forrest Park - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Councilman proposes name change for Forrest Park

MEMPHIS, TN - (WMC-TV) – Memphis City Councilman Myron Lowery had strong words about a controversial Memphis park. His new proposed ordinance could put a civil rights leader's name right next to the name of a Confederate General.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans have already had to contend with the city's removal of a large Forrest Park marker without notification. That ordinance would name the park Forrest Wells Park.

"My ordinance calls for an acceptable marker to commemorate Ida B. Wells as an addition to the park," Lowery said.

The addition is of a civil rights leader to Forrest Park, where Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan is buried along with his wife, and where there is a very large statue of Forrest on a horse.

"I think that would be totally inappropriate. This park is dedicated to General Forrest and the Forrest family," said Lee Millar with the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Ida B. Wells and Nathan Bedford Forrest might sound like strange bedfellows, but Memphis City Council member Myron Lowery says adding some type of marker for Wells, possibly a statue, could make the controversial Forrest Park more acceptable to more people.

"This park has been so controversial in the past, what better way than to honor another African-American leader by adding her name to this controversial park," Lowery said.

Ida B. Wells was a remarkable, educated woman born a slave in 1862 in Holly Springs, Mississippi. She eventually moved to Memphis and worked as a journalist exposing the horrors of lynchings.  She has an historic marker on Beale Street.

Lee Millar says Wells certainly deserves a park, just not a shared one with Forrest.

"The Sons of the Confederacy want to maintain their rich heritage, and they want to keep it to themselves. I want to expand that heritage," Lowery said.

Myron Lowery's ordinance to rename Forrest Park to Forrest Wells Park will be brought up Tuesday at a city council committee.   It will require three readings at the full council to pass. 

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