Tennessee history

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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Memphis sells city parks, buyer removes Confederate statues

A private group headed by a county commissioner and fueled by anonymous donations bought two parks from the city of Memphis at little cost this week in a maneuver that cleared the way for swift removal of two Confederate statutes that have sparked conflict for years, reports the Associated Press.

Shelby County Commissioner and attorney Van Turner told a news conference Thursday that his group, Memphis Greenspace Inc., is ready for any lawsuits that arise from its deal with the city, which took months of planning to sidestep a Tennessee law that makes it tough to take down Confederate monuments on public grounds.

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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.

Construction gets underway on new $124M TN Library and Archives building

Press release from Secretary of State’s office

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, along with Gov. Bill Haslam, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge), Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) and Tennessee State Librarian and Archivist Chuck Sherrill, officially broke ground on the new home of the Tennessee State Library and Archives Monday.

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Bredesen kicks off Senate campaign (plus some history notes)

Press release from Phil Bredesen campaign

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Phil Bredesen today announced that he is running to represent Tennessee in the U.S. Senate.

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Ed Cromer retiring as editor of The Tennessee Journal

Ed Cromer is retiring on Dec. 31 after 20 years as editor of The Tennessee Journal, the capstone of a career largely devoted to astute observation and reporting on state government and politics since the 1970s.

Ed is 65. His retirement was announced via a brief notice in the current edition of the Journal, which adds that a successor will be named soon.

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Eight TN properties added to National Register of Historic Places

Press release from Tennessee Historical Commission

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Historical Commission today announced the addition of eight properties to the National Register of Historic Places.

“The latest National Register of Historic Places listing reflect Tennessee’s unique heritage and honor a diverse group of places worthy of being recognized and appreciated,” said Executive Director and State Historic Preservation Officer Patrick McIntyre.

The sites recently added to the National Register of Historic Places are:

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Suggested TN political junkie reading: From a hallelujah for Haslam to John Wilder’s ghost

A listing of some recent writing on Tennessee politics and state government matters (delving into state history in a couple of cases; a ghost in another) that didn’t get mentioned in daily blogging but are well worth reading – at least in the opinion of one Tennessee political junkie.

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Court of Appeals upholds removal of Confederate names from Memphis parks

The state Court of Appeals in Jackson, affirming a February ruling by the Shelby County Chancery Court, has ruled that the City of Memphis had the legal authority to rename despite contentions to the contrary from the Sons of Confederate veterans, reports the Commercial Appeal.

In 2013, the city parks changed the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest Park to Health Sciences Park, renamed Confederate Park as Memphis Park and declared the former Jefferson Davis Park to be known as Mississippi River Park.

Lee Millar, a spokesman for the Sons of Confederate Veterans Nathan Bedford Forrest Camp No. 215, said the group is a digesting the 18-page ruling it received Wednesday and has yet to decide whether to appeal the court’s decision to the state Supreme Court.

“They’ve been known for their history and historic naming for decades and decades,” Millar said of the parks. “They shouldn’t be frivolously renamed. They’re part of our history — Memphis’ history as well as America’s history.”

Wednesday’s ruling doesn’t affect the city’s legal efforts to remove a statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest or the graves of he and his wife from Health Sciences Park. The city still plans to argue for the statue’s removal in Davidson County Chancery Court in November following the state Historical Commission’s Oct. 13 rejection of a waiver.

Note: The full Court of Appeals decision is HERE.