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Alexander hails passage of bill to preserve civil rights history sites

Press release from Sen. Lamar Alexander

NASHVILLE, December 22, 2017 – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said the Senate has sent President Trump legislation to be signed into law that will recognize and connect important landmarks of the Civil Rights Movement, including two potential sites in Memphis. Alexander said the legislation will preserve history for the next generation.

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Confederate statute removal brings Democratic cheers, Republican jeers

House Republican leaders Thursday criticized the sale of two Memphis city parks to clear the way for removal of Confederate statues, suggesting there may be legislative efforts against the move. House Democrats, on the other hand, praised the Memphis maneuver.

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Bill would move N.B. Forrest bust to state museum

Rep. Brenda Gilmore, former chair of the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators, has filed a bill that would move a bust of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest from the state capitol lobby to the new Tennessee State Museum.

Under current state law, the Capitol Commission must approve any such move – and the panel voted 7-5 in September to leave the Forrest bust in place. HB1466 specifically makes the Forrest bust an exception to that general rule and further directs that it be relocated to the new museum, now under construction.

There’s no listed Senate sponsor yet for the bill, pre-filed for consideration in the legislative session that begins next month.

Note: Previous post on the commission vote is HERE; a post with a bit of bust history HERE.

Marsha Blackburn, a ‘neo-Confederate secessionist’ and a 2004 prayer in the U.S. House

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn once brought an avowed neo-Confederate secessionist she’d known for decades to deliver the opening prayer for the House of Representatives, according to Talking Points Memo.

Blackburn, who is currently running for the Senate, invited the Rev. David O. Jones, a Tennessee pastor and Christian home-school program head who says he’s known her since the late 1970s, to give the opening prayer for the House in 2004.

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One arrest, but otherwise things were fairly peaceful at TN ‘White Lives Matter’ rallies

A pair of white nationalist rallies in two Tennessee towns went off relatively peacefully Saturday with only one arrest, after police prepared carefully to keep demonstrators and counter demonstrators under control, reports ABC News.

One “White Lives Matter” attendee who was standing with the white nationalists was arrested during the first rally, in Shelbyville. The white male, wearing a green fleece jacket, was approached by a flurry of cops who quickly pulled him through a temporarily detached metal barricade, pinning protesters on two sides of a street. Police took the unidentified man away in a golf cart.

At the second rally, in Murfreesboro, there were no reported injuries, damage or arrests, city officials said.

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RNC adopts resolution condemning white supremists

Meeting in Nashville, the Republican National Committee on Friday unanimously approved a resolution condemning Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan, a move that comes just two weeks after President Donald Trump was widely criticized for going easy on white supremacist groups involved in the Charlottesville, Virginia, protests.

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More on Memphis effort to remove Forrest statute — with Haslam’s help

The Memphis City Council, which voted in 2015 to remove a statute of Nathan Bedford Forrest from a city park but saw its effort rejected by the Tennessee Historical Commission, held a meeting Tuesday to talk over options for getting around a state law that requires commission approval. One is to sell the park to a private entity, which would not be covered by the state law; another is to cover the statute up.

Gov. Bill Haslam, who was in Memphis Tuesday and who is a member of the commission, told reporters that he’s been talking with Mayor Jim Strickland and supports the Memphis chief executive’s efforts to remove the statute.

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Alexander says he’s changed his thinking on Forrest bust

Four decades after defending the placement of a Confederate bust in the State Capitol, Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander now says it should go, reports WPLN.

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Rep. Van Huss ‘doubles down’ in praise of Confederate battle flag, bashing Black Lives Matter

State Rep. Micah Van Huss has rejected a request to “dialog” with a group that criticized his Facebook posting declaring the Confederate battle flag a “symbol of freedom” and that the Ku Klux Klan and Black Lives Matter are both “racist hate groups.” Instead, reports the Johnson City Press, the Washington County Republican “doubled down” on his previous remarks.

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Councilman calls for special legislative session on Confederate monuments

In a Commercial Appeal op-ed piece, Memphis City Councilman Bill Morrison urges Gov. Bill Haslam to promptly call a special session of the General Assembly to repeal Tennessee Heritage Protection Act of 2016.

That’s the law that requires two-thirds of the 29 members of the Tennessee Historical Commission to approve any changes in monuments to historical figures, no matter where they are or what they stand for. Five members live in Shelby County.

The law.. was co-sponsored by some of our own, including state Sen. Mark Norris, who is President Trump’s nominee for a federal judgeship position in Tennessee. Another co-sponsor was state Sen. Mae Beavers, a Republican candidate for governor.

…The law is wrong and must be repealed. It doesn’t protect our heritage. It only serves to protect memories of white supremacy and shrines for modern-day followers.

Sen. Sara Kyle, D-Memphis, has introduced a bill that would exempt Shelby County from the law in question (SB1467) which, of course, will not be up for consideration – barring a special session – until the legislature returns to Nashville in January, 2018. (It is suggested that Haslam calling a special session on Confederate monuments is about as like as the U.S. House approving Rep. Steve Coehn’s proposed impeachment of Donald Trump.)

Note: The media generally is awash this weekend with opinion pieces on the fallout from Charlottesville, Va., troubles and efforts to remove Confederate memorials from public property display. Here are snippets from a couple of Tennesseans at opposite ends of the state:

From Memphis’ Otis Sanford: Above all, it is now time to completely ignore the sitting president of the United States.

From Knoxville’s Greg Johnson: Both fringes have lost their minds.