Carmack statue might have to return unless law is changed

The House returns into session on June 1, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The state may have no choice but to return the toppled statue of segregationist newspaper editor Edward Ward Carmack under a state law enacted to make it harder to replace historical markers and statues.

According to the Heritage Protection Act:

A public entity having responsibility for maintaining a memorial, or a nonprofit entity acting with permission of the public entity, shall have the authority to take proper and appropriate measures, and exercise proper and appropriate means, for the care, preservation, protection, repair, and restoration of the memorial.

State attorneys interpret that last part about the repair and restoration of the monument to mean that governments are required to fix any damage. That means the statue knocked over in last weekend’s protests could have to be brought back to its former place of prominence outside the southern entrance of the state Capitol. That’s unless lawmakers decide to seek a waiver or pass a law affecting that particular monument.

13 Responses to Carmack statue might have to return unless law is changed

  • Norma Shirk says:

    The Carmack statue was originally installed on the Capitol grounds in the 1920’s when the KKK was at the height of its power. The recent state law that will probably keep the Carmack statue on the Capitol grounds is just the latest example of anti-racial integration laws (now disguised as laws to preserve history) that have been enacted in the south since the 1890’s. In the 1890’s statues of Confederate soldiers were installed everywhere as a form of protest against Reconstruction and racial equality. In the 1930’s and 40’s, southern states added the Confederate flag to their state flags to protest against racial integration. As a black soldier in the movie ‘Glory’ says, “my, my, some things never change”.

  • Randy Hendon says:

    I hope the existing law is followed and the Statue is returned after repair. History is history and there is no
    need to remove or correct/contextualize any remembrance of it. There is ” Monument Madness” in this country now and if you do not return the Statue you are supporting the riots and unlawful actions of the criminals who burned and destroyed so much in Nashville and other American Cities! Think about it!

    Carmack was not perfect but he was a prominent Tennesseean and U.S. Senator – return his Monument!

    • MARLE says:

      Statues and monuments in public places are for Honoring, not remembering. That is what museums are for.

  • Gerald McCormick says:

    Been trying to get rid of that bum for years. Put Crockett in!

  • Eddie White says:

    I completely agree with Randy. How sad that we have reached the point, encouraged by the type of bias we see in this article, that mobs can destroy statues and have people rationalize it as the right thing to do. That applies in this case and to many other statues destroyed in the name of historic purification the last few years.

  • Henry Walker says:

    The statue of Carmack was authorized by the Tennessee legislature in 1909, shortly after Carmack’s murder, to honor Carmack for his stand on prohibition. Many believed the pro-liquor interests had conspired to assassinate him. At the same time, the legislature outlawed liquor in Tennessee. Carmack’s views on race and his deification of all things southern were no different than the opinions held by virtually all white, southern politicians of the time, but the decision to erect Carmack’s statue on the most prominent location on Capitol Hill was about prohibition, not race.
    I would not argue with historians who have suggested that nothing Carmack did warrants such a monument, but let’s not confuse the debate with discussions of the KKK.

  • Stuart I. Anderson says:

    Repair and replace the statue. We don’t capitulate to thuggery! Perhaps the money should come out of the budget of whatever law enforcement organization that was responsible for protecting it and failed.

  • Charles says:

    The portion of the Heritage Protection Act quoted above is not the portion governing removal. This is the portion: (b)
    (1) Except as otherwise provided in this section, no memorial regarding a historic conflict, historic entity, historic event, historic figure, or historic organization that is, or is located on, public property, may be removed, renamed, relocated, altered, rededicated, or otherwise disturbed or altered.
    There is a way to try to accomplish removal if the Legislature desires.

  • James White says:

    “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” – George Orwell
    “Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people.” – John Adams
    “To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child.” – Cicero

    • Stuart I. Anderson says:

      That was great! Thanks James.

    • MARLE says:

      I am well aware of who Benedict Arnold was. And I didn’t need a “Benedict Arnold Boulevard” or Bridge, or Statue to inform me of that period of history and his part in it.

      Stop pretending that statues and the like are for Remembering. They are for HONORING and some deeds in history are not worth honoring.

  • Eddie White says:

    Don’t worry Marle, the left is tearing down those statues at a rapid pace. See this morning the Democratic Governor of Virginia has authorized the removal of 4 more Confederate statues.

    • Johnathan says:

      @Eddie White – Thankfully!:) Hopefully they will all be removed and replaced with something a little more hopeful and WORTH remembering.

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