- Jeneisha Harris is a pupil at Tennessee State College and an activist.
If Accomplice statues will not be welcomed in parks, then why are they welcomed within the Capitol?
After tirelessly advocating for the elimination of the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust within the Tennessee Legislature, this can be a query that I typically ask myself.
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In 2017, due to #TakeEmDown901 and Memphis Greenspace, the monument of Nathan Bedford Forrest was faraway from the Well being Sciences Park and the monument of Jefferson Davis was faraway from the Memphis Park.
However that was not all that was eliminated that day. An enormous image of oppression was dismantled, and a reminder of ache was no extra.
I’m a Memphis Native, born and raised within the historic neighborhood of Orange Mound. Though I attend college and reside in Nashville, that victory additionally felt like a win for me too, contemplating that I grew up within the metropolis that after held these statues in our parks.
It impressed me to get entangled and advocate for the elimination of a statue that glorifies a kind of similar males that had been eliminated in Memphis.
Forrest was an advanced man, however he dedicated acts of evil
Nathan Bedford Forrest was a Accomplice common through the Civil Battle, from 1861-1865.
His command was accountable for the pointless bloodbath of African American Union troops stationed at Fort Pillow in April 1864. I place a powerful emphasis on pointless due to the truth that the black troops had already surrendered earlier than they had been killed.
Forrest later turned the primary grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Many have tried to problem these truths by saying he died a modified man after his disassociation with the group in 1874, however did he really die a modified man?
Forrest’s monetary scenario later turned determined following the failure of his railroad enterprise in 1874. He was pressured to promote a lot of his property, so he spent his later years overseeing a jail labor camp close to Memphis that tortured and abused black staff.
So, sure. Forrest denounced the KKK and disassociated himself with the group, however his actions had been nonetheless a continuation of their ideas with out the membership.
You see, that is greater than only a statue. How ironic is it that the slaves who constructed the Capitol will not be acknowledged in it, whereas the boys who killed them are?
As black folks on this nation, we’re too typically advised to “recover from” horrendous acts that we’ve got confronted reminiscent of slavery, Jim Crow and oppression of all types.
However how can we recover from it if we’re reminded of it each single day by way of symbols of our ache?
We would not honor Hitler at a Holocaust museum
The Tennessee Capitol is the folks’s home and it shouldn’t maintain Accomplice monuments to an individual who as soon as killed these folks. Our folks. My folks.
Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust are traditionally intertwined due to his egregious acts in opposition to Jews.
Nathan Bedford Forrest, the KKK and the oppression of black persons are additionally traditionally correlated due to their equally horrific acts to us.
There will not be statues of Hitler in Holocaust Museums that glorify him.
Why ought to there be a bust of a Accomplice Soldier and grand wizard of the KKK?
For the sake of preserving the statues’ historical past?
Is Nathan Bedford Forrest a pivotal a part of historical past? Sure. However the whole lot that is part of historical past shouldn’t be glorified within the type of a statue.
Historical past shouldn’t be utterly eradicated as a result of we’ve got a accountability to be taught this historical past for our private information, educate it to our kids and be sure that it doesn’t occur once more.
Nonetheless, this statue belongs within the Tennessee State Museum with the true context that precisely depicts who Nathan Bedford Forrest was and the way his half in historical past drastically affected this state and its folks.
If Memphis parks is not going to permit Accomplice monuments, then the Tennessee Capitol shouldn’t both.
Some other alteration, suggestion or advice is a gesture of apathy, callousness and disrespect to the people who had been the victims of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s supremacy.
Jeneisha Harris is a pupil at Tennessee State College and an activist.