Civil Rights icon applauds Memphis for removing Confederate statues

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Civil Rights icon Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) was in Memphis today for a commemorative Civil Rights pilgrimage starting at the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was killed in 1968.

Lewis weighed in on the controversial decision by the city to remove Confederate monuments from two parks late last year. He said other cities and the country should take note.

"I think it sent a strong message not just to Memphis but to the state of Tennessee and to the South and the nation," Lewis said.

Lewis applauded the efforts of Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Memphis City Council for removing the Confederate monuments from city parks.

Many city leaders had previously said they felt the monuments shouldn't be in place when the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's assassination is commemorated on April 4 of this year.

But the decision remains controversial.

The city sold the parks to a nonprofit in a workaround deal to avoid state interference in removing the monuments.

A judge has ordered the statues be preserved by the nonprofit Memphis Greenspace until a lawsuit filed over their removal can be decided.

Lewis indicated the place now for monuments like those that were up in Memphis is not in public view.

"Many cities and county governments are placing these statues of the past in museums to be stored," Lewis said.

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