Students walk out of school in protest of Confederate statue

(Source: WMC Action News 5)
(Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Students at University of Tennessee Health Sciences walked out of school in protest of the Nathan Bedford Forrest Statue in Memphis.

The students left class Friday and walked into Health Sciences Park, where the statue stands.

Bryan Goodman, president of the Student National Dental Association, planned the walk out over the statue, which stands down the street from campus.

"As a dental student, I have to see this statue every time I enter and exit the campus," Goodman said. "It serves as a constant reminder that regardless of how hard we work and how much we achieve, in the eyes of some, we will never be seen as equals. The statue was strategically placed to intimidate and terrorize persons of color. It is a physical representation of hate and pain and its presence is a direct contradiction to our school's mission to produce healthcare providers that support and treat Memphis' diverse community."

This protest comes as the City of Memphis announced earlier this week it plans to file waivers to Tennessee Historical Commission in an effort to take the statues of Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jefferson Davis down.

"We wanted to make administration know that we don't accept our money funding this," Goodman said. "As students whose tuition dollars go to maintenance at this park, we are demanding that these statues be taken down immediately."

Many held signs, others marched around Health Sciences Park to send a strong message, even in silence. They then walked up the steps, leading up to what many of them call a bold reminder of racism.

"It's time to pick a side and I choose to be on the right side of history," said fourth-year dental student Cheryl Bird. "It's time to take these statues down."

The students and supporters are following suit to what's happening all over the country. Many claim the Confederate statues are dividing our country and it is time for them to go.

"We cannot honor Dr. King and honor men who stood against every man that he lived and died for," Bird said.

But not everyone shares this same view.

"Well, of course, I'd like it to stay," said one man "It's a fine statue."

Jerry Askin will have more tonight on WMC Action News 5 at 6 p.m.

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