Ida B. Wells marker proposed in controversial park - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Ida B. Wells marker proposed in controversial park

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - A Memphis park honoring a confederate lieutenant general who once led the KKK is at the center of another controversy.

Days after the Sons of Confederate Veterans erected a large marker bearing the name of the park, Memphis city leaders removed it.

The developments since then have re-ignited a familiar debate over what Nathan Bedford Forrest Park stands for.

A statue of a man on a horse on Union Avenue caught the attention of Andrew Singleton's 5-year-old daughter.

"I explained to her that he had a reputation of not being nice to African-Americans," said Singleton.

The monument and grave site of Confederate Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest has long been the source of a racial divide in Memphis.

Those wounds have once again been reopened.

"It's not about a dead man, it's about the meaning and the symbolism of the old confederacy," said attorney D'Army Bailey.

Memphis civil rights activist and attorney D'Army Bailey strongly opposes city councilman Myron Lowery's proposal to place a marker in Forrest park honoring Ida B. Wells.

"Which I think is sacrilege. And a desecration of everything Miss Wells stands for," said Bailey.

Wells was an African-American journalist in Memphis who documented lynchings in the late 1800s.

City Councilman Jim Strickland said he was already researching a way to honor Wells in downtown Memphis.

"And I think Myron came to his conclusion completely outside of me because I never talked to him about it," said Strickland.

While preserving one piece of Memphis history is up for discussion, there are renewed talks of tearing Forrest Park down.

"This is simply a stone of what we had to go through," said Singleton.

He wants his children to grow up knowing both sides of every story.

This is certainly not the first time there have been calls to relocate the monument and the remains for Forrest and his wife.

In 2005, Al Sharpton led a rally urging Memphis leaders to shut it down.

Copyright 2013 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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