Though we were on the verge of victory in Memphis with the CS parks situation, we must take up arms and advance to the trenches once more. The attack on the parks, (Forrest Park, Jefferson Davis Park, & Confederate Park) and us has been renewed.
The mayor, the city council, the "Citizens to Save the Parks", and the majority of the public are on our side to preserve our parks. But some rabid elements of the objectionable side are stirring up trouble again and trying to make the mayor and council take up the issue once more.
Late last month the US Postal Service had an appropriate and routine press conference here to announce a series of stamps depicting Black leaders in Civil Rights history. The ceremony was typical with a few speakers and a few posters showing the new stamps. The postmaster spoke, and then the mayor, who then departed for other appointments. A few more speakers, and then the president of the Rainbow/Push Coalition took the microphone (after the mayor had left), and, breaking from the occasion, sharply criticized the mayor and other black leaders for backing away from the idea to rename our parks and to remove the Forrest Statue and graves. Rev LaSimba Gray called the mayor and others ‘spineless’ and called the Forrest Statue an "insult" to black Americans. He then vowed to keep up the attack to remove all things Confederate. He also specifically mentioned that the black leaders were too easily swayed by the influence of the Sons of the Confederacy. (Yes, that’s a plus for us. Fortunately our government leaders recognize the respect we have maintained).
On Tues, (Oct 25) I received a call from a source with inside connections stating that Gray & Rainbow/Push were indeed gearing up for more attacks. They were also trying to enlist the aid of the national Southern Christian Leadership Conference to hold another anti-park rally in Memphis and have invited Rev. Joseph Lowery (past pres. sclc 1977-97, after Abernathy) to lead the rally. (Rev Lowery has not yet accepted.) Mr. Lowery is supposed to be quite an orator and fire-eater, though somewhat more sane than Al Sharpton. Nevertheless, a potential enemy. No rally date has been set.
On Wednesday, (Oct 26) I received a phone call from the area SCLC president, Rev. Dwight Montgomery. Though he is no great fan of Forrest, Rev Montgomery, too, is on our side. His opinion is that Forrest and the parks are history, good or bad, and should be left alone. He also rightfully said that the Black community needs to be focused on the problems of today. He additionally says that he recognizes that Forrest (& Davis, etc) are heroes to many (& many Whites) and that we don’t need to be divisive or confrontational with each other, but rather work together to make Memphis a better modern community, and leave the parks alone. He has refused to support the Rainbow/Push agitators.
You know, it’s nice to find a community leader with the right priorities.
On Thursday, Oct 27, Forrest camp members John Ellis, Ed Williams, and Lee Millar met with Rev. Montgomery to discuss these issues, to which Rev. Montgomery reiterated his support of our position. We likewise stated that we wished to work with him in any way possible to better the community. Cooperation and interaction between our Black and White citizens will show that the Rainbow/Push rabble-rousers are not needed and have little following.
We will have further meetings with our Black leaders in support of our stand.
There will be more information forthcoming about this concert and the parks defense.
Men, we must continue the petition drive and if you’ve not sent in the postcards from the Confederate Veteran, please send those in. They are having a great positive effect on the recipients.
Community Events Officer
N. B. Forrest Camp 215, SCV
"Always outnumbered, never outfought"