Today it is being reported that a committee has been organized to determine the new name of Forrest Park and two other parks named in honor of the Confederacy in Memphis, Tennessee.
Members of the committee include:
- Council members Bill Boyd and Harold Collins, Co-chairmen
- Reverend Keith Norman, Sr. Pastor of First Baptist Broad, current president of the NAACP
- Jimmy Ogle, current president of the Shelby County Historical Commission
- Larry Smith, Deputy Director of Parks & Neighborhoods for the City of Memphis
- Michael Robinson, Chairman of African & African American Studies, LeMoyne Owen College [website indicates that he is a professor of social work]
- Dr. Douglas Cupples, longtime professor, Department of History, University of Memphis
As the report indicates, notably absent is any representation from the Sons of Confederate Veterans. This is a huge mistake. Yes, spokesmen such as Lee Millar have made some absurd claims about Forrest, but the SCV is an important stakeholder in this discussion and their perspective deserves to be heard. The Memphis City Council should embrace every opportunity to openly discuss the relevant historical, social, and racial issues surrounding these public parks and their continued maintenance. Keeping the SCV out of these discussions will only fuel suspicion and outrage among a certain demographic. I for one would love to see the SCV make the case for their preferred position to the entire city of Memphis.
With this latest news it looks like the city council has taken a giant leap backward.