The remains of a former slave trader, Ku Klux Klan leader, and Confederate general will soon not be situated at a park in Tennessee after construction workers on Tuesday initiated the process of removing his body from the public space.
This comes about a year after the local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and nonprofit Memphis Greenspace reached an out-of-court agreement to remove the remains of Confederate Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, as well as that of his wife from the Health Sciences Park, WREG reported. The park, which was previously named after Forrest, is now owned by Memphis Greenspace. The remains of Forrest and his spouse will be relocated to a Confederacy museum.
The park has been the place of burial for the Confederate general and his wife since 1904. A statue of him on horseback was also installed at the location but that was removed in 2017.
“I think this is symbolic of where we are heading as a country, as a nation, that we can be united from many,” Van Turner, president of Memphis Greenspace, told the press. Turner also said the removal of the former slave trader’s body is a “win-win scenario for everyone.”
“The Forrest family, the sons, will be able to have the remains in a place where those remains will have peace. And we’ll be able to have a park that is a park that can be used by all of the residents of Memphis’ Shelby County,” Turner added.
During Tuesday’s removal process, however, a man who was said to be a volunteer worker protested the removal of the body of the former KKK leader by waving a Confederate flag at the site. He also interrupted a Black county commissioner who was speaking to the press and also sang Dixie Land – a song in tribute to the south. The commissioner who was interrupted, Tami Sawyer, told HuffPost she has reported the White man to the police and investigations have been launched.
“This is a full circle moment. This statue was built as a monument to the confederacy and all it stood for including racial violence and slavery,” Sawyer said in a statement prior to the interruption, Local 24 reported. “I am proud to be a descendent of slaves and one of the people responsible for ending the confederacy’s reign of terror on our city. Good riddance.”
A member of Sons of Confederate Veterans also told the news outlet the process to remove and transfer the remains will take at least three weeks.