Debate over Confederate symbols moves to Memphis - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Debate over Confederate symbols moves to Memphis

Statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest in Memphis (Source: WMC Action News 5) Statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest in Memphis (Source: WMC Action News 5)

Tennessee lawmakers are trying to remove a statue of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest from Nashville.

The move comes days after nine people were shot and killed in a historic black church in South Carolina. In light of that shooting, businesses, governments, and individuals across the country are calling for the removal of Confederate symbols.

Memphis is no different. A statue to General Forrest currently stands in the newly named Health Sciences Park.

In January 2013, Memphis City Councilman Myron Lowery called for the park to be renamed. The park, formerly known as Forrest Park, is where Forrest and his wife are buried.

With Nashville lawmakers asking to remove a smaller statue inside the capital, it's putting the statue back in the debate.

“Nathan Bedford Forrest is a symbol of hate, of the confederacy, of the KKK, and times have changed,” Lowery said.

Right now there is no plan to remove the statue, but already since the shooting last week, Mississippi lawmakers are calling to remove the Confederate symbol from their flag.

Tuesday, Republican Senator David Park and Democrat Derrick Simmons called for the removal of the symbol, one that many say has a new meaning.

“I don't think the flag is going to help with the violence or hate crimes, but I think it would be a good gesture if the state would just agree that this is not a good symbol anymore,” said Latoya Slater.

“I don't look at it as a racist symbol,” said Daniel Rudorfer. “It's what the South had, you know.”

The conversation has led many retailers to pull confederate flag merchandise. Thousands have signed a petition to bring down the Confederate flag in South Carolina.

Additionally, Ole Miss released a statement from Acting Chancellor Morris H. Stocks:

The University of Mississippi community came to the realization years ago that the confederate battle flag did not represent many of our core values such as civility and respect for others. Since that time, we have become a stronger and better university. We join other leaders in our state who are calling for a change in the state flag.

Yet, the Forrest statue remains in Memphis as the conversation continues.

“I just think it should be there. We all need to come together and just be one nation under God,” said Yolanda Savage. “After what happened in Charleston, Memphians have not yet reacted to removing that statue, so we'll see what happens.”

Unless someone comes forward to council members to express their concern, the statue will remain. So far, no one has come forward.

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