Sharpton leads rally to change park names

He's a man who is accustomed to pressing the flesh. He ran for president last year. But Reverend Al Sharpton is perhaps at his best on stage, in the pulpit, or behind a microphone. And he did not disappoint during Saturday's rally.

"We fought against the Confederate flag in South Carolina, we fought against the Confederate flag in Georgia, and now we are here in Tennessee," said Rev. Sharpton.

Like the speakers who preceded him, Sharpton preached against Nathan Bedford Forrest, the park named in his honor and those who support them.

"If you can justify, based on history, having a statue of him--then what stops somebody 50 years from now from building a statue of James Earl Ray?" Sharpton asked.

Sharpton told the crowd, which included shouters and sign-holders, that every person should be concerned with the image Confederate parks convey.

"This is not a black and white issue--this is about right and wrong," said Sharpton.

He urged local politicians to come out of the shadows. He criticized local civil rights leaders who refuse to join what he considers to be a very worthy fight.

"Because we need to show the rest of the world that the day for honoring people like this is over," Sharpton said.

Judge D'Army Bailey, who introduced Sharpton, called Saturday's rally the most significant political rally in the past 20 years in Memphis. Those opposed to the Confederate parks plan to appear before the Memphis City Council on Tuesday.