MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Memphis City Councilman Myron Lowery wants to rename Forrest Park. Nathan Forrest, a Confederate general, is buried at the park, and many in Memphis say the name should be changed because Forrest was a founder of the Ku Klux Klan. Lowery's idea is to name the park after Forrest and famous civil rights journalist Ida B. Wells.
Nathan Forrest was moved to this spot in 1905 when the park was dedicated to him. Since then there have been moves to change the name. This time they don't want to change it, just add another name to it.
The general is facing south, fitting for someone who fought and killed for the Confederacy. Nathan Bedford Forrest was controversial when he was alive and remains controversial now.
To the Sons of the Confederate Veterans, he's a hero.
According to Lee Millar, "General Forrest was a well respected man. He was an alderman for two terms in Memphis, one of the great respected men of the town. At his funeral, 3,000 black Americans went to his funeral because they thought so much of him."
There are reports in our history that Forrest was a cruel slave owner, reports he might have massacred hundreds of African Americans. So nobody is going to win this battle when it comes to history; there's good and bad on both sides.
City Councilman Myron Lowery has an idea that would allow all people from all walks of life to be satisfied. His idea is to honor African American journalist Ida B. Wells and her fight for civil rights. Rename the park as Nathan Forrest, Ida Wells Park.
"It's now time to honor some of our African American heroes," he said. "It shows compromise in this community and it shows good will. Yes, it is fitting and proper. Can you think of anything better?"
Fellow council member Lee Harris says he can think of something better, alright. Just leave it alone - it's not that big a deal, he says.
"The name of the park, you know, who cares? It doesn't make any difference to anybody's life."
Well, Millar of the Sons of Confederate Veterans would disagree with him. The name makes a big difference to him, and the Lowery plan is far from a compromise as far as he's concerned.
"It's no compromise. This historical committee would be up in arms if you tried to remove a historic park. It's not a good idea."
If Lowery gets the votes needed, and that's a big if right now, there will be eight weeks of debate and arguments before the final vote.