The Memphis City Council recently moved to relocate a statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest in Health Sciences Park in Memphis, Tennessee.
Forrest was a Confederate general and the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. The Tennessee Historical Commission has rejected this movement.
The city was required to submit an application because of a Tennessee law which makes it difficult for states to relocate, remove or rename war memorials.
The application was rejected based on the criteria the commission has set forth, which had been previously adopted and remained unchanged when they recently had the opportunity to edit the criteria.
Some university students do not agree with this decision.
John Brown University sophomore biology major Tiffany Aguirre said she does not understand or agree with the decision to leave the statue in the park.
“I, for one, do not like racist figures erected into statues,” Aguirre said. “I’m not a dixie southerner, so I don’t understand the ‘confederate culture,’ so I’ll never understand why they think it’s okay to keep [the statue where it is]. It’s like someone keeping a statue of Hitler in Germany.”
Sophomore elementary education major Taylor Genser understands the historical value of the statue, but she does not think that should be the highest priority.
“I feel like we shouldn’t put revering a statue ahead of our respect for people. I get that the statue is history, but that can’t be more important than being considerate of people,” Genser said.
Taylor Smith, junior communication major at Southwest Baptist University, also understands the history of the statue, but does not think it should be in a park.
“It’s heinous that it still exists there and it’s just a product of the racism that still exists in the south to this day. It belongs in a history museum, not a park where people have to be reminded of those who used to lift them from the same trees they are trying to enjoy,” Smith said.
The statue was dedicated to Memphis in 1905.
Forrest has been a controversial figure even since the time of the war, when he allegedly lead a massacre of Union troops. Most of these troops were black and were attempting to surrender, USA Today reported.
The city of Memphis can submit another application to move the statue; however, the criteria it must meet to be approved has not changed.