Controversy over honoring civil rights activist stirs up city - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Controversy over honoring civil rights activist stirs up city council

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(WMC-TV) - A controversial topic is back on the table for the Memphis City Council.

The proposal, which would put a civil rights activist on the same plaque as one of the first reported KKK leaders, is stirring up debate.

A large statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest in Memphis evokes all kinds of emotions. The confederate Army leader who reportedly was also one of first leaders of the KKK is buried at Forrest Park with his wife.

"When you talk about enslaving people and killing people and you have a council member talking about this man was a good person, to hell with that," said Janis Fullilove, Memphis City Council.

That was how Janis Fullilove reacted the first time the proposal was mentioned to honor Civil rights activist and journalist Ida B. Wells with a marker at Forrest Park.

"Which I think is sacrilege. And a desecration of everything Miss Wells stands for," said Memphis attorney and civil rights activist D'Army Bailey.

Memphians like civil rights activist and attorney D'Army Bailey disagreed two weeks ago when it was first came up.

Tuesday, it be brought up again by it's originator, Councilman Myron Lowery.

"In this case, separate is not equal. I think equal is equal and that's why I want to change the name to Ida B. Wells as well as Forrest Park," said Lowery.

Some Memphis city leaders say Miss Wells deserves her own distinction and others agree but for different reason. They want to leave Forrest Park the way it is.

"The debate will continue and the council will make the best decision, but it's like this we find some strange bed fellows in this debate," said Lowery.

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