We always thought that burying the past was the best way to move towards the future. Not in Memphis, TN. Several activists gathered to dig-up the long-buried remains of Confederate General, Nathan Bedford Forrest.
Nothing says tolerance and respect like defacing the grave of a U.S. soldier, right?
Allegedly unhappy with the “lack of progress” made by Memphis officials, some local residents decided to take matters into their own hands on Wednesday. The protest group, who call themselves the Commission on Religion and Racism, showed-up with shovels and started removing grass and dirt from Forrest’s gravesite.
The group’s leader, Isaac Richmond, was clear about their purpose. “If he’s gone, some of this racism and race-hate might be gone. We got a fresh shovel full, and we hope that everybody else will follow suit and dig him up,” Richmond said. “We are going to bring the back hoe, the tractors and the men with the equipment to raise Bedford Forrest from the soil of Memphis.”
Needless to say, not everyone was pleased with the group’s criminal actions-including descendants of Gen. Forrest. A spokesman for the family called the act “vandalism” and said the protesters “broke the law.” After seeing a video of the destruction, a stranger drove 270 miles to replace the sod around the grave.
Memphis Mayor, AC Wharton, has led the charge to remove Forrest’s body. “These relics, these messages of this despicable period of this great nation, it’s time for those to be moved,” said Wharton last month. “This is a monument to a man who was the avowed founder of the organization that has as its purpose the intimidation, the oppression of black folks.”
A simple search of history, however, proves that assertion is false.
The Memphis city council previously approved a measure to exhume Forrest’s body and remove his statue from the park. However, Tennessee heritage laws prevent the removal of historical monuments related to the Civil War. Approval can only come from a government commission.
The park was renamed from its original, Forrest Park, to Health Sciences Park in 2013.