MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - A seven-person committee has been formed to study the renaming of three Memphis parks, which were recently changed in anticipation of new state legislation.
The committee will review the issues surrounding permanent names for Forrest Park, Confederate Park and Jefferson Davis Park. On February 5, the Memphis City Council voted to rename the parks Health Sciences Park, Memphis Park and Mississippi River Park respectively.
Council members said the names could be temporary, but the naming matter took on new urgency when State Representative Steve McDaniel (R-Jackson) proposed a bill that would block cities from renaming or re-dedicating parks named after war figures, events or groups.
The council also voted to continue studying the issue, but wanted to make sure the names were changed should McDaniel's bill go through.
"We may come back and name [the park] after Nathan Bedford Forrest, but we will never let the legislature in Nashville control what we do in Memphis for ourselves," said Councilman Harold Collins.
Collins and fellow Councilman Bill Boyd will serve as co-chairs on the committee. The remaining members are:
- Reverend Keith Norman, Sr. Pastor of First Baptist Broad, current president of the NAACP
- Jimmy Ogle, current president of the Shelby County Historical Commission
- Larry Smith, Deputy Director of Parks & Neighborhoods for the City of Memphis
- Michael Robinson, Chairman of African & African American Studies, LeMoyne Owen College
- Dr. Douglas Cupples, longtime professor, Department of History, University of Memphis