Wharton May Push For Different Name for Controversial Park

Posted on: May 1, 2013
by Daniel Hight

(Memphis) It’s a controversy that seems to want to stick around. Wednesday, a Memphis city councilman told News Channel 3 Mayor A C Wharton’s plan to rename a park after a civil rights icon is a good idea, but might need more time to discuss.

“I think the mayor was looking for a pretty happy ending to this long parks naming saga. He made a suggestion and I think an understandable one and probably a pretty good one,” said Memphis City Councilman Lee Harris.

But the park naming committee stayed away from mayor Wharton’s suggestion.

He wants to name one of Memphis’ three old confederate named parks after civil rights icon, Maxine Smith.

“If necessary I’ll just go ahead and do it on my own,” said Wharton in a press conference last Friday. “I feel that strongly about it.”

The mayor is out-of-town and couldn’t talk about the idea and nobody in the mayor’s office would answer just how far he’s willing to push.

Many people think we should honor the civil rights icon in our city, maybe even by renaming a park after her, but not the three controversial parks, they say, because there are things that make it unfitting like cannons.

“I don’t know if the mayor is going to do that. He may talk to the council, talk to the council members and try to get their thoughts about it and debate privately about that,” said Harris.

Wednesday, Councilman Harris said while a good idea, it may be impractical.

“There are a lot of monuments and other confederate themed statues and so forth at some of these parks,” he said. “It might be a little incongruent to have Maxine Smith’s name on one of the signs.”

The committee made its final recommendations to the city council.

Members suggested that Forrest Park should become civil war memorial park, keeping the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest in place.

They voted to rename Jefferson Davis Park as Harbor Park.

Copyright © 2013, WREG

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