MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The City Council voted Monday to change the names of three parks that honor the Confederacy and two of its notable members.
The council passed a resolution to immediately rename Confederate Park and Jefferson Davis Park in downtown Memphis and Nathan Bedford Forrest Park, which lies just a few miles away. The vote was 9-0 with three members sitting out the vote.
The resolution changes the name of Confederate Park to Memphis Park; Jefferson Davis Park to Mississippi River Park; and Nathan Bedford Forrest Park to Health Sciences Park.
The name changes upset those who believe the council is trying to change history by downplaying the significance of the Confederacy's struggle against Union forces. It was applauded by at least one civil rights activist.
The council already had been considering changing the name of the park honoring Forrest, a Confederate cavalryman and former slave trader who was a member of the early Ku Klux Klan. He also is accused of massacring dozens of black Union soldiers who tried to surrender at the battle at Fort Pillow in 1864. Davis was president of the Confederacy.
The idea for the resolution to change the name of all three parks emerged Monday morning, after council members learned of a state House bill that would prevent parks named after historical military figures from being renamed.
The bill was seen by the council as unnecessary interference by state lawmakers. Because a House vote is likely several days away, the council voted on a resolution to remove the military names and go with more generic ones, giving them time to decide on new park names without worrying about state action.