Committee debates Confederate themed parks - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Committee debates Confederate themed parks

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

The Memphis Park Naming Committee held its first meeting on Friday. They discussed renaming the confederate-themed parks once again.

MORE: City Council renames Confederate parks

It was a quick meeting and everyone on the committee had strong opinions. Some of them are embracing the city's Civil War history. Others want to put that history into context.

The Committee is tasked with recommending new names for Three Memphis Parks.

"It's got to reflect the history of all Memphians and not just one particular group," says Beverly Bond.

The group of seven is made up of community leaders, historians and professors.

Doug Cupples says, "I think we've got one of the most fascinating histories of any city in this country and our local history and I want to add to it. I don't want to be taking away from it."

Earlier this year, the City Council decided to rename three Memphis parks: Confederate Park, Jefferson Davis Park and Forrest Park, which is named after Nathaniel Bedford Forrest, a confederate general, slave trader and grand wizard of the KKK.

That set off a firestorm and the controversial debate continued between committee leaders, including this back and forth between Keith Norman and Jimmy Ogle.     

Keith Norman: "It does not represent who we are, it did not represent who we were at the turn of the century it does not represent who we are as a city now."

Jimmy Ogle: "Are you referring to he founded the KKK? Is that what you're referring to?"

Keith Norman: "His affiliation."

Jimmy Ogle: "Ok, well he didn't found it. I think that's a common mis… big misperception, he was not the founder of the KKK and there's been other versions of the KKK."

Keith Norman: "The grand wizard at one point."

Jimmy Ogle: "But he did not found the KKK."

Keith Norman: "Ok, but he was highly esteemed by the KKK. So much so that they honored him with being the first grand wizard."

Jimmy Ogle: "And it was a different mission of the KKK at the time than what we're seeing now."

Keith Norman: "Well that stands to be debated because at the time in which that KKK was founded. We understand that he denounced whatever later on. But the issue here is that it is the KKK, he was the grand wizard."

The debates continued. The committee members went on to discuss topics like origins of the Civil War.

But, the City Council members chairing the group encouraged them to put their personal opinions aside.

"Our mission is bigger than our own opinions and that's what we have to remember," says Councilman Harold Collins.

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