In a significant positive development for the fight to retain the names of three city parks in Memphis, Sons of Confederate Veterans spokesman Lee Millar met last week with the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In their discussions, Rev. Dwight Montgomery reiterated his stand with the SCV that the three Confederate parks should be left alone and that the Memphis City Council should have much more important tasks to tackle. Even more importantly, the SCLC will speak out on the issue. Earlier in the controversy, Rev. Montgomery had stated that the SCLC, though sympathetic, would remain neutral.
In the meeting, Rev. Montgomery stated that the SCLC pastors (130) had met and now expressed their 100% backing of his philosophy on the issue. While all of the pastors didn’t necessarily like the park names or heroes (Confederate Park, Forrest Park, and Jefferson Davis Park), most all didn’t see them as a problem and stood to urge the city to move on: history is history.
As Rev. Montgomery explicitly stated, “Not a single one of those parks caused a shooting in the ‘hood. We need to focus on fighting crime and gangs and not on these parks. The parks should be left as they are, and we shall say so.”
The SCLC plans a pastoral luncheon next week, and a delegation will be appointed to appeal to the city council to direct their attention to the crime problems and to leave the three historic parks alone. The Sons of Confederate Veterans has been invited to be a co-sponsor of this luncheon. It will be held at the Annesdale Baptist Church in south Memphis, which is the home church of Rev. Montgomery. Approximately 150 leaders of the Black community are expected to attend. While the focus of the SCLC is to improve the quality of black neighborhoods and that of the SCV is to protect Southern history, the two groups are united in the efforts to preserve the parks and direct the city council to address the pressing issues of today, and the future, not our 100-year old parks.
(Courtesy of Lee Millar)