Roundup of TN media reporting on Confederate memorial matters

There is a remarkable amount of media reporting on Tennessee support and/or opposition to Confederate memorials today. Here’s a sampler:

TDOT reconsiders obscuring Forrest statute

Tennessee Department of Transportation officials are reconsidering a request that trees and shrubs be used to block motorists’ view of a Nathan Bedford Forrest statute that is located on private property near Interstate 65, reports WKRN. The Nashville City Council made the initial request in 2015 and TDOT refused. The reconsideration comes after Oak Hill Mayor Heidi Campbell sent Gov. Bill Haslam a letter renewing the idea.

Put N.B. Forrest alongside Parson Brownlow?

In an editorial, the Johnson City Press says the state legislature set a precedent on what to do about controversial figures from Tennessee history with a 1987 vote to exile a portrait of Gov. William G. “Parson” Brownlow from the state Capitol and send it to the state museum. from the state Capitol.

The same should be done to the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust. We can think of no better place to display this symbol of the Old South and the KKK than beside a portrait of a man reviled for his treatment of former Confederates. It would be the perfect pairing (you might say opposite ends of the same coin) to illustrate the history of this state. 

Vandals paint Confederate monument blue

In Knoxville, a monument to Confederate soldiers near the University of Tennessee campus was covered in blue paint on Wednesday by vandals while a petition drive is underway calling for it to be removed, reports WBIR.

The monument, erected at the corner of 17th Street and Laurel Avenue, was placed by the Daughters of the Confederacy in 1914 to commemorate the Confederate soldiers who died in the Battle of Fort Sanders on Nov. 29, 1863.

 The petition was started by Ben Allen, who asks that Mayor Madeline Rogero “remove the monument to secessionist, Confederate occupying forces” immediately. He calls it an “eyesore inducing honors to inhumanity.

Mayor not acting fast enough to remove Memphis monuments?

In Memphis, Mayor Jim Strickland’s staff is defending his decision to go through the state’s legal process to try and remove statues of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest from city property and not reinterpret or hide them in the meantime as demanded by a group of activists, reports the Commercial Appeal.

“We’re looking for immediate action,” said activist Tami Sawyer, who helped organize Tuesday’s rally. “What we’re saying is that the city can’t let them stand at MLK50, but this needs to happen now. The country is watching. Take ’em down.” (MLK50 refers to the 50th anniversary of the April, 1968, assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis.)

See also the Memphis Daily News report under the headline, “Mayor’s Office Says Confederate Monument Protesters Asking City to Break Law.”

State Rep: Black Lives Matter and KKK are both ‘racist hate groups’

The Tennessean has a story built around this Facebook post by state Rep. Micah Van Huss, R-Jonesboro:

“Black Lives Matter, the KKK, and Neo-Nazi’s (sic) are racist hate groups and I condemn them. Some of those groups have taken a banner that is dear to my heart and made it one of their symbols.  For me, Robert E. Lee’s battle flag is a symbol of freedom. Stonewall Jackson was my fathers (sic) hero.”

Included are emailed comments from state Republican Party Executive Director Michael Sullivan and Tennessee Democratic Chair Mary Mancini.

Sullivan: “Freedom of speech and assembly is important constitutional right that all Americans should have. However, violence, racism and bigotry, whether it be on the ball fields of Alexandria, the streets of Charlottesville, or anywhere else in America, has no place in our democracy or political discourse.”

Mancini: “Black Lives Matter is not a hate group, period. It’s infuriating that Rep. Van Huss is equating Nazis and white supremacists with those who fight against oppression and fight for the values that we as Americans hold dear — freedom, equality and opportunity for all. We are all Tennesseans and Mr. Van Huss as a state representative should understand that. Instead his words empower racists and all who seek to turn Tennesseans against one another.”


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