2005/08/12

Saturday, in the park …

Saturday in Memphis promises to be hot, possibly exciting and hopefully, non-violent. The minor dust-up over the names of Confederate, Jefferson Davis and Nathan Bedford Forrest parks has mushroomed from non-issue status into a nationally noticed situation that has the potential to evolve into a dangerous confrontation. How could things have gone this far south so quickly? Well, this is Memphis and it is The South.

Remember how this got started?

County Commissioner Walter Bailey wants Confederate Park, Jefferson Davis Park and Nathan Bedford Forrest Park renamed because the names offend African American Memphians who feel that the names reflect the pre-Civil War condition of slavery. The Sons of Confederate Veterans and others want the park names to remain as they are because they are reflections of the South’s history. From Mama said there's be days like this ...


Even the players have changed. Read on.

Dr. Dwight Montgomery is president of the local Southern Christian Leadership Conference. On Thursday, Dr. Montgomery and the SCLC held a prayer vigil at Christ United Methodist Church petitioning “God to heal the wounds of racism.” The gathering was meant to be an alternative to the rally to be held Saturday sponsored by the Rev. LaSimba Gray and protesting the names of three city parks.
"This is not a political gathering, it's a prayer gathering," said Dr. Dwight Montgomery, local SCLC president. "We're not protesting anybody, but we are protesting the issues that divide and tear down our community." Source


Rev. L. LaSimba Gray Jr., president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition in Memphis and his group has organized a rally to be held on Saturday protesting the names of three local parks. Protesters want the names of the three parks changed. Former presidential candidate/activist The Rev. Al Sharpton will be there.

"We're looking forward to a peaceful demonstration and rally," said Gray. Source

James Edwards, host of local conservative radio’s Political Cesspool and his listeners have organized and are sponsoring a Southern Vigil as an alternative to Rev. Gray and the Rainbow Push Coalition’s Forrest Park event. The Southern Vigil will be held downtown at Jefferson Davis Park. Also on Saturday.
"Instead of having people running amok, we're having them coming to an organized place so there won't be a confrontation at Forrest Park," Edwards said. Source

Citizens to Save Our Parks, a group organized to preserve the parks and the names, and Sons of Confederate Veterans are asking their members to steer clear of downtown on Saturday. Lee Millar, spokesman for Sons of Confederate Veterans has urged his group to "disregard this outside agitator. We will not dignify his inflammatory meeting with our presence.” Source

And then there’s Mayor Willie Herenton who said he …
... has no interest in either burying or digging up history, argues there are more important issues facing the city. "The fact that Rev. Al Sharpton has been invited to Memphis serves no useful purpose as far as I'm concerned. All Sharpton can do is come and run his mouth. He has no authority to do anything. As mayor, I don't give a damn about Al Sharpton. Someone needs to ask Al Sharpton if he can go to New York and tell Mayor Bloomberg what to do." Source

Herenton also announced that he will seek a fifth term.

Hopefully, the fact that the two planned rallies are being held in different parks will help insure that the citizens of Memphis will indeed be the recipients of a non-violent Saturday.

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