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Debate Continues To Swirl Around Nathan Bedford Forrest Statue

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The debate surrounding the removal of the statue and remains of Nathan Bedford Forrest from Health Sciences Park rages on in Memphis.

The City Council's Parks and Neighborhood Committee met Tuesday morning to discuss what to do with the statue, if anything at all. This city chose action over discussion."When I bought this up a few weeks ago, it was clearly after what happened in South Carolina,” Memphis City Council Chairman Myron Lowery said. “It was clearly after what happened in the state capital of Tennessee with the governor of Tennessee now willing to move the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest."

Lowery is passionate about the removal of the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue. His passion led to the committee passing two proposals today. The first was an ordinance to transfer ownership of the statue, while giving them permission to remove and relocate the statue from Health Sciences Park and possibly giving it to another entity. The benefit of the ordinance is that it will be more permanent.

Their second action was a resolution concerning the removal of the grave. The grave is not under the cities control and requires a court order. That will take some time, but the resolution gives the city council time to research exactly what needs to be done, how much it will cost as well as the process and procedures.

“I believe we need to do what is politically correct for this day and time and age,” Lowery said. “It was politically correct in 1905 to erect the statue and move the graves. It is no longer politically correct.”

Some disagree.

"His descendants and the Forrest family are opposed to moving the statue or the graves,” Lee Millar, a spokesman for the Sons of the Confederate Veterans, said. “General Forrest was a councilman for two terms. A very prominent citizen. Well respected in the city. That’s part of our history and history shouldn't be erased.”

FOX13 received an email addressed to Myron Lowery from the Elmwood Cemetery. They have agreed to provide burials of just "the remains" in their cemetery and also assist with the removal and relocation if it should come to that.

As far as the statue, we are told that several cities and organizations have asked about taking the statue, but it’s too early to make those decisions right now.

Another hurdle the council has to pass is the state’s Historical Commission, which has to approve the removal of the statue from Health Sciences Park. Lowery reminds us, this is the same commission that will decide the fate of the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust in Nashville.
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