The Shrine, The Park and Other Things

In my Internet travels, I came across this blog post from the Washington Post.

If nothing else, it shows that we are not the only community that has debates, discussions and controversies about monuments to history.

The blog post is about the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo which was ordered built by the Japanese Emperor in 1869. That is about the time Nathan Bedford Forrest’s post Civil War life was unfolding here in Memphis. And like the earlier parts of his life, it would be just as controversial as his past as a slave trader and a Confederate Army General.

screen shot from Washington Post blog

That said, the ad hoc Parks Committee put together by the city council for recommendations on what to call Forrest, Confederate and Jefferson Davis Parks will hold its next meeting April 29 at 3 p.m. at City Hall.


The Parks Debate and The Other Suggestions


Our story on the latest in the name game for the city’s three Confederate-themed parks is coming up in the Wednesday edition of The Daily News which goes up Tuesday afternoon.

The ad hoc committee trying to come up with recommendations to the City Council on what to do with the parks did what happens in most efforts like this. They did an Internet poll on what anyone who could find the survey would pick as the new names for the three parks.

The group got 525 responses and in the case of each park – Confederate, Jefferson Davis and Forrest – 463 to 484 of those responding said they wanted the parks to return to the names they had before the council voted earlier this year to give each of them temporary names.

Some on the panel complained that the survey was gamed by the Sons of Confederate Veterans group and other similar organizations. Others questioned how many of those responding lived in Memphis. Still others said the results may not be scientific but reflect generally a widespread sentiment.

More on the other suggestions further down.

This group of nine citizens, two of them city council members, have a lot of ground between them on this issue. As you will read, this controversy also features a fascinating difference of opinion among historians who for many years have had their own debate about many of these points that has been largely out of the political spotlight.

There is some common ground – not much, but some around the edges. No one at the table this week suggested that the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest should be removed from the park bearing his name as well as the burial site of Forrest and his wife.

Most on the panel expressing an opinion agreed that would be impractical. And some in the group favored never going back to the old names but suggested new names that retain a general Civil War theme.

Now, to the online suggestions that lagged far behind the old names in their totals – most getting no more than one suggestion.

They included Peace Park, John Wilkes Booth Park, Traitor President Park, Historical Parks 1-3, Battle of Memphis Park, Unity Park, Brighter Future Park, Lost Cause Park, Ruby Wilson Park, The Park Down By The River, Dr. Lemuel Diggs Park and Eternal Confederate Park.

There was a whole subcategory of park name suggestions that involved current city council members as well as Mayors Wharton and Luttrell. Committee co chairman Bill Boyd didn’t include two of the suggestions on the list saying they were “off-color.”

Bob Dylan is bringing his Americanarama tour to Memphis

Bob Dylan is coming to Memphis this summer.

He’s playing at AutoZone Park July 2. His supporting acts include Wilco and My Morning Jacket – also, at select venues, Richard Thompson and Ryan Bingham.

More here.


Bon Ton Cafe staying open for dinner starting May 1

Downtown’s Bon Ton Café is adding something new next month.

Starting May 1, the restaurant will begin staying open for dinner. According to its Facebook page: “So all of you who just can’t get enough of us, or just don’t feel like cooking, will be able to stop by after work and get the best food and drink that money can buy.”

Boston Marathon bombing suspect, and the West Memphis Three

According to several national media outlets, this comment on a University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, blog post from 2011 about the West Memphis Three was written by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing who was captured at week’s end. Click through to read the whole thing.

“In this case it would have been hard to protect or defend these young boys if the whole town exclaimed in happiness at the arrest. Also, to go against the authorities isn’t the easiest thing to do. Don’t get me wrong though, I am appalled at the situation but I think that the town was scared and desperate to blame someone.”

More here.