McDaniel Won’t Try to Overturn Memphis Park Re-naming

The state legislator sponsoring the bill that would ban renaming of historical parks and monuments across Tennessee tells the Commercial Appeal that he’s disappointed that the Memphis City Council hurriedly renamed three Confederate-themed parks, but he won’t try to force a reversal.
But another lawmaker said word of the council’s action in heading off McDaniel’s bill spread rapidly through the state legislature and could help the Shelby County suburbs’ efforts to establish their own school systems.
Rep. Steve McDaniel, R-Parkers Crossroads, said his bill isn’t aimed specifically at Memphis’ off-and-on disputes over Forrest Park and its statue of Confederate war hero Nathan Bedford Forrest, but was something he’s been thinking about for several years without pursuing. And because the City Council has already re-named the parks, he said he won’t try to make the state bill — which he said will probably take five to six weeks to pass — apply retroactively.
“I’m absolutely disappointed (in the council’s action). I don’t think that just because you disagree or don’t approve of the historical past that we should be changing the names of these parks or think about removing monuments. We’ve got monuments on the Capitol grounds that I wouldn’t have approved of putting there, but they are there and they are part of our history.
His “Tennessee Heritage Preservation Act” (House Bill 553) provides in part that “No statue, monument, memorial, nameplate, plaque, historic flag display, school, street, bridge, building, park, preserve, or reserve which has been erected for … any historical military figure, historical military event, military organization, or military unit, and is located on public property, may be renamed or rededicated.”
If the bill were already law, it would have blocked the City Council’s action Tuesday renaming Forrest Park as Health Sciences Park, Confederate Park as Memphis Park and Jefferson Davis Park as Mississippi River Park. Council members cited the pending state bill as their reason for moving swiftly to change the parks’ names.
…One suburban Shelby County state representative, who would not speak about the subject on the record, said the Council’s move may have unintended consequences, including helping suburban lawmakers win approval of another bill now in the works to allow new municipal school districts.
Suburban leaders have decided that court-ordered negotiations over new school systems in Shelby County have all but ground to a halt, and their best bet is state legislation that lifts a 15-year-old ban on new municipal school districts statewide. Such a bill is likely to have better chances of passing now than in the last two years, when legislators from elsewhere wanted to limit new districts to Shelby County — which a federal judge ruled is unconstitutional.

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