Cohen, Wharton want to name park after civil rights icon Smith - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Cohen, Wharton want to name park after civil rights icon Smith

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MEMPHIS, TN -

The passing of civil rights icon Maxine Smith comes as one of her longtime causes comes to a head. A committee will vote Monday to rename three Confederate-themed parks.

Congressman Steve Cohen wants to name one of the Memphis parks after Smith. Mayor A C Wharton wants to make it happen - even if he has to use his executive power.

Congressman Steve Cohen called Wharton from Washington, D.C. Friday to propose his idea to lionize Smith's legacy.

"I'll be glad to work with the council committee or to go ahead and do it on my own," Wharton said. "I feel that strongly about it."

Smith fought for decades to remove the statue and grave of the Ku Klux Klan leader who once owned Forrest and Maples Slave Traders.

Parks Renaming Committee Chairman Bill Boyd says they might discuss Cohen's idea Monday.

"I think it's sure to come up," Boyd said.

He knew Smith since the 60s and said she's worthy of the honor, but the idea will meet some resistance.

"I'm for retaining the history of the parks and adding to it."

It will be a battle of wills.

Smith was the mayor's dear friend and next door neighbor.

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