MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The battle over renaming a Memphis park caused a war of words at Memphis City Council Tuesday.
Forrest Park is named after Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, a former slave owner and one time head of the Ku Klux Klan.
Council members put off dealing with the subject for two weeks, but not before a heated debate.
Critics of a plan to add the name of civil rights leader Ida B. Wells to Forrest Park claimed it would set off emotional racial discussions. It took about five, maybe ten minutes for people to see that they were right.
In classic Memphis style, City Councilman Myron Lowery was going to announce his idea. Keep the Forrest Park name, but add civil rights leader Ida B. Wells to the park's name. The only trouble is, Lowery wasn't at this meeting; he's in Washington attending the Inauguration of the President. So the vote was delayed, but Councilman Bill Boyd wanted to say a few words about Nathan Bedford Forrest.
"Whatever anyone's heard, I think they need to read the history of that person," he said.
Boyd said history shows the Ku Klux Klan wasn't a hate group after the Civil War, it was a social organization. The words didn't go over well with council member Janis Fullilove, as was evident by her expression as Boyd said the following:
"Matter of fact the book I read said if there'd been a YMCA at the time they probably would have been with the YMCA, because that's all they did was social events for them and their wives. OK. That's how it started, and he had nothing to do with anything."
Fullilove couldn't hold her feelings inside, applauding when somebody talked about removing the Forrest Park sign - a decision made by the city's Chief Administrative Officer George Little.
Fullilove says the body of Forrest should be returned to the original burial site at Elmwood Cemetery. She makes no apologies for her feelings, saying she's against everything Forrest stood for.
"I hate it. And I'll stand up against it every day of my life," she said.