Last signs of three Confederate-themed city parks are removed in Memphis
By Kevin McKenzie
Memphis Commercial Appeal
March 5, 2013
The City Council on Tuesday declined to reinforce a previous decision to rename three Confederate-themed parks in Memphis, but at the parks themselves, city workers removed the signs that still carried the original names of Forrest Park, Jefferson Davis Park and Confederate Park.
Proposed state legislation that would ban renaming public parks dedicated to historical military events, figures and organizations — the same legislation that prompted the council to quickly rename the parks on Feb. 5 — triggered Tuesday’s sign removals, said George Little, the city’s chief administrative officer.
During a City Council debate on Tuesday about voting to pass an ordinance to fortify the decision to rename the parks, council member Lee Harris said that because Mayor A C Wharton’s office had not removed the park signs, the Tennessee Heritage Preservation Act that has passed the House in Nashville might still limit the city’s authority to rename the parks.
The council concerns led to a “prudent” decision to remove the names from signs at the parks, although no monuments were disturbed, Little said.
“We’re holding on to all this until such time as a final decision is made,” Little said.
Harris didn’t move the council to action; a 10-3 vote tabled two ordinances, with the majority choosing to await the work of a committee appointed to gather opinions and the issues. Little said temporary signs are in the works.