Two years ago, a crane arrived at a park in downtown Memphis and took down a statue of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy during the Civil War, as a crowd watched and cheered. Now, after a two-year legal battle about the statue’s removal, the park, once known as Confederate Park, is being redesigned—this time, as a place that welcomes everyone.
Nearby, another park—also named after Davis—was redesigned and given a new name as well. Previously little used, it’s now filled with new play equipment—adult-sized, so everyone can play—and activities such as Friday-evening events around firepits, deliberately designed to bring people together who might not otherwise have interacted.
The parks were renamed in 2013 when the city council said that they evoked a racist past. A third downtown park, named after Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general who later became the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, was renamed Health Sciences Park.
Considering the fact that it’s 2019 and Memphis is a majority-black city in a majority-black county, it’s good to see the city of Blues getting with the times.