State Watch

Memphis moving remains of Confederate general

The remains of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest are being moved from their gravesite in a popular Memphis park to a new Confederate museum, the latest in ongoing efforts to remove markers in the area honoring the figure. 

The removal process for the remains of Forrest and his wife at Health Sciences Park began earlier this month as part of a court-approved agreement between Memphis Greenspace and the Sons of Confederate Veterans, according to local NBC affiliate WMC

The Sons of Confederate Veterans have agreed to transport the remains to the group’s National Confederate Museum in Columbia, Tenn., located about 200 miles away from its original location. 

Lee Millar, a spokesman for the group and a distant cousin of Forrest, told The Associated Press this week that the remains of Forrest and his wife, Mary Ann Montgomery, are being held at an undisclosed location until they can be brought to the museum. 

Millar told the AP, “Memphis is not the town that Forrest grew up in.” 

“It’s just deleting his history and forgetting about the past,” he added. 

Forrest’s remains are being moved amid a national push to remove markers of former Confederate and Southern leaders who defended the institution of slavery and had other racist ties. 

Forrest, who also served as the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, made much of his wealth from the slave trade and sold many slaves in the downtown area of Memphis, where residents and tourists alike now come for entertainment and food. 

The area where he sold slaves is also a short drive from the Lorraine Motel, where civil rights leader Martin Luther King. Jr. was assassinated in 1968. 

Many in Memphis have been successful in their push for markers honoring Forrest to be removed, including at the park where he was buried, which was called Forrest Park until the name was changed in 2013. 

A statue of Forrest that was previously held at Health Sciences Park was removed in 2017, along with one of Confederate President Jefferson Davis from Fourth Bluff Park, after the city sold the parks to Greenspace. 

The Tennessee Historical Commission in March voted nearly unanimously in favor of removing the bust of Forrest in the state Capitol following a recommendation made by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R). The governor encouraged the commission to reconsider its placement following a wave of civil unrest and calls for racial justice spurred by the police killing of George Floyd. 

However, no removal plans for the bust have been announced, with GOP legislators arguing that another vote from the commission is needed. 

In April, Atlanta’s school board unanimously voted to rename Forrest Hill Academy, named after the Confederate general, to the Hank Aaron New Beginnings Academy.

Tags Columbia Confederacy Confederate Monument Confederate statue Memphis Nathan Bedford Forrest NBC Tennessee The Associated Press

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