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Forrest : Memphis’ first White Civil Rights Advocate and Virginia’s Black Confederates.


Lt. General Nathan Bedford Forrest (1821-1877) was a renowned Southern military leader and strategist during the War Between the States. During the Civil War, Forrest’s Confederate cavalry wrecked havoc among Union forces throughout the mid-South. He gained worldwide fame from his many battlefield successes, but the wartime heroics have overshadowed his post-war work as a community leader and civil rights advocate. He fought fiercely on the battlefield, yet was a compassionate man off the field. After the war, Forrest worked tirelessly to build the New South and to promote employment for black Southerners. Forrest was known near and far as a great general, and was a well-respected citizen by both blacks and whites alike.
The Independent Order of Pole-Bearers Association (predecessor to the NAACP) was organized by Southern blacks after the war to promote black voting rights, etc. One of their early conventions was held in Memphis and Mr. Forrest was invited to be the guest speaker, the first white man ever to be invited to speak to the Association.
After the Civil War, General Forrest made a speech to the Memphis City Council (then called the Board of Aldermen). In this speech he said that there was no reason that the black man could not be doctors, store clerks, bankers, or any other job equal to whites. They were part of our community and should be involved and employed as such just like anyone else. In another speech to Federal authorities, Forrest said that many of the ex-slaves were skilled artisans and needed to be employed and that those skills needed to be taught to the younger workers. If not, then the next generation of blacks would have no skills and could not succeed and would become dependent on the welfare of society.


Virginia’s Black Confederates

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One would have to be stupid to think that blacks were fighting in order to preserve slavery. What’s untaught in most history classes is that it is relatively recent that we Americans think of ourselves as citizens of United States. For most of our history, we thought of ourselves as citizens of Virginia, citizens of New York and citizens of whatever state in which we resided. Wesley says, “To the majority of the Negroes, as to all the South, the invading armies of the Union seemed to be ruthlessly attacking independent States, invading the beloved homeland and trampling upon all that these men held dear.” Blacks have fought in all of our wars both before and after slavery, in hopes of better treatment afterwards.
Denying the role, and thereby cheapening the memory, of the Confederacy’s slaves and freemen who fought in a failed war of independence is part of the agenda to cover up Abraham Lincoln’s unconstitutional acts to prevent Southern secession. Did states have a right to secede? At the 1787 Constitutional Convention, James Madison rejected a proposal that would allow the federal government to suppress a seceding state. He said, “A Union of the States containing such an ingredient seemed to provide for its own destruction. The use of force against a State would look more like a declaration of war than an infliction of punishment and would probably be considered by the party attacked as a dissolution of all previous compacts by which it might be bound.”  -snip

Forrest’s words went unheeded. The Memphis & Selma Railroad was organized by Forrest after the war to help rebuild the South’s transportation and to build the ‘new South’. Forrest took it upon himself to hire blacks as architects, construction engineers and foremen, train engineers and conductors, and other high level jobs. In the North, blacks were prohibited from holding such jobs. more


CITY REMOVAL OF FORREST PARK MARKER ANGERS SONS OF CONFEDERATE VETERANS

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Sons of Confederate Veterans spokesman Lee Millar, past chairman of the Shelby County Historical Commission, said he noticed on his way to work Tuesday morning that the marker had disappeared. Ten feet long, the marker simply said “Forrest Park.”
Millar said there were no signs of damage to surrounding grass in the park on Union in the heart of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center campus. UT maintains the park, which is owned by the city. Since the grass wasn’t damaged, Millar said it would have taken a crane to cleanly lift the marker and its concrete base from the park. He filed a police report, but said he suspected the city was involved, because it would have been the only one with the equipment to move the 1,000-pound Tennessee granite stone.
Memphis Chief Administrative Officer George Little said he authorized the removal using city General Services equipment on grounds the marker had not been formally approved. Little said he did not notify anyone ahead of time because he had no idea who installed the marker, although Millar said the back side of the marker had an inscription saying it was placed by Memphis Park Services, the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Shelby County Historical Commission. -snip

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