152 Years After the Civil War,

Memphis Expels Confederate Monuments

by George Boyington

152 Years After the Civil War,

Memphis Expels Confederate Monuments

by George Boyington

After a bloody civil war, decades of Jim Crow era segregation, imbedded generational inequality, and one of the most complex and protracted legislative battles I’ve witnessed, the last symbols of the Confederate States of America were removed from the City of Memphis.

Immediately after an almost unheard of multi-day council meeting (recessed Tuesday 12/19, reconvened Wednesday,12/20), the Memphis City Council voted unanimously to privatize the parkland containing monuments of Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jefferson Davis. As statutes pertaining to the removal of monuments only apply to public lands, this action allowed for the legal removal of the Confederate monuments.

After approval of the minutes the same day, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland immediately signed the council’s decision into law.

To plan, enact, and implement such an audacious action must be commended. I applaud those directly responsible for securing the Confederates removal from public spaces in Memphis, Tennessee.

Over the past few days, I’ve been watching the close of this Chapter in Memphis history from home- ill with the flu. I’ve poured over the statements issued by the Mayor and some on the Memphis City Council on social media, at press conferences, and in a late-night email from the City of Memphis regarding the subject.

One thing that was evident in their statements is that this was a moment where the legislative and executive branches of government came together to solve a problem that caused controversy and strife among the citizenry. Their statements thanked a few key people- undoubtedly deserved.

Social Opinion: Michael R. Williams

My people !!! Because some African Americans believed the process was wrong, I am hearing words from what I believed to be strong African American towards other Africian Americans like House Nigga, Field Nigga and Uncle Tom’s. That scares me but gives me a better understanding of how a people could be suppressed for so long due to their own short sightedness. To say that it is OK for our government to establish dummie companies to sell and buy public property that belong to the people the achieve your desired results this time may come back to haunt us. Thats how governments justified establishing consentration camps and slavery in the past. It is never under any circumstance to deceive the people by those we have elected. All victories are not wins but concessions for a bigger conquest. To say that it is OK to circumvent laws and rights to reach your desired results especially by politicians, opens the door to future violation and suppression of your rights. The process is really important in that it establishes precedence that could be utilized against you in the future. It is always good to evaluate differing views to get a full understanding of a situation or event. Everything that shines is not gold and all money is not good money. Do not let a perceived victory cloud your vision !!!

What was most striking though, were the omissions. People like community activist Tami Sawyer and the #TakeEmDown901 movement were missing from the conversation. The partnerships between Ms. Sawyer, #TakeEmDown901, and other grassroots activists and groups were not recognized as contributing in any way to the removal of these symbols. Activists awareness efforts, their legislative engagement, their grassroots community organizing… omitted from the official record. Also omitted: Bradley Watkins and Mid-South Peace and Justice Center’s proposal from May of 2017 suggesting that the City of Memphis cede the parklands to private interests in order to divest the Confederate monuments.

More importantly still, individuals have been arrested for demonstrating against the City of Memphis’ perceived lack of urgency in removing the statues. Ostensibly, these activists were on the same side as the Mayor and Council. But they had to suffer the indignity and disrespect of jail for their beliefs. Their contributions and their sacrifices were omitted from the official record.

I was present at many of the actions leading up to this day. I watched the momentum build. I noted the many people and groups that united around the cause. I know so many people who worked on this and I am proud of all of them. I witnessed hard work, sacrifice, dedication, and passion. Unequivocally, I am proud of the grassroots organizers and demonstrators who personified the impetus of the people to remove divisive monuments from public spaces.

As I spoke to activists on the ground Wednesday evening, one thing was evident- this was a collaborative effort. Moreover, it was a win.

But when we retell the story of how this victory all came about, let’s forever remember the grassroots activists who worked diligently to make this day a reality.

An organized and active population can make anything happen. Never stop organizing.

Social Opinion: Derek Lehman

Typical Memphis Crooked politics. Selling multi-million dollar public properties without public notice to a council member? While desecrating and robbing a grave? They’ve lost their minds.


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