Emotions boil over renaming of controversial park - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Emotions boil over renaming of controversial park

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) – Nathan Bedford Forrest likely never imagined the emotions that have erupted over his legacy and the Memphis Park named for him.

Memphis City Council member Janis Fullilove became so emotional Tuesday that she cried and left a council committee meeting when people began defending the Confederate General.

The phrase, "tell me how you really feel," comes to mind when Fullilove talked about the emotionally charged issue of renaming Forrest Park at Tuesday's council committee meeting.

"Can't anybody sit up and justify his actions to me that he loved black people," Fullilove said. "If I kill your Momma, do I love you? If I kill your Daddy do I love you?"

When Councilman Bill Boyd referred to Forrest as a man who helped African-Americans, Fullilove made faces in disbelief.

"And I'm going to keep on making them," Fullilove said.

Forrest is said to have been a slave owner and grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

"What I've read, is that the man was a great general, a great business man here in the city but he did not form the KKK," Boyd said.

The committee talked about council member Myron Lowery's proposal to name the park after Civil Rights Activist, Ida B. Wells. Wells was a 19th Century editor of an anti-segregationist newspaper that wrote about the horrors of lynching.

Council member Boyd believes Wells should get her own park. He also thinks a $10,000 large granite marker placed at the park by the Sons of Confederate Veterans and removed by the city should be put back.

Lee Millar with the Sons of Confederate Veterans said some reports show Forrest wasn't even a member of the Klan.

"Ms. Fullilove just needs to do some more research on her own," Millar said. "She was just very objectionable which is unfortunate. She should listen to what people have to say."

No action was taken on the matter of co-naming the park because Myron Lowery was at a Democratic National Committee meeting in Washington, D.C. and could not attend Tuesday's council meeting.

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