City council votes to rename three Memphis parks - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

City council votes to rename three Memphis parks

MEMPHIS, TN - (WMC-TV) – Three controversial Memphis parks have been re-named by the city council in a twist to an historic fight brought on by Nashville lawmakers.

The statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest on his horse sits in the park now named Health Sciences Park.  Three confederate named parks now have new names after the Memphis City Council refused to bow to intrusion from Nashville.

"It's just a bad idea to rename historic parks," Lee Millar with the Sons of Confederate Veterans said. "Memphis has got a great history and these parks are over 100 years old."

But that's exactly what Memphis City Council members did by changing the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest Park. The park, named after a one-time Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and located in the medical district was changed to Health Sciences Park. Confederate Park downtown was changed to  Memphis Park and Jefferson Davis park also in downtown was renamed Mississippi River Park.

"This is going on all over the country, revisionist history. It's the thing to do," said Shelby County resident Becky Muska.

"I am glad we circumvented Nashville and that we can make our own decisions," Memphis City Council member Kemp Conrad said.

The vote came as council members feared state legislators might pass legislation stopping any efforts to rename Forrest Park to Forrest Wells Park in honor of anti-lynching crusader Ida B. Wells.

"The Republicans in Nashville have no control over what we do as far as our city is concerned," Memphis City Council member Janis Fullilove said.

The council decided to change the names of the park in a resolution and not an ordinance so three readings would not be necessary. The park names can still be changed to something else.

"I don't think there is much of any chance that they'll go back to the names that sparked a lot of controversy," Memphis City Council member Lee Harris said. "I don't think we're going back to Nathan Bedford Forrest Park, no."

What about the statue in Forrest Park and the fact that he and his wife are buried here? The city council members we talked with said they don't care if the statues stay in the parks, but no decision has been made on that.

Copyright 2013 WMC-TV. All rights reserved

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