In the heart of Memphis’s Forrest Park stands a towering statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest, an influential Confederate general from the Civil War and one of the most notorious racists in American history. The statue has been a source of contention in recent years, representing the city’s often-tense racial divisions and becoming a symbol for the ongoing fight for civil rights.

Forrest was born into poverty and rose to prominence as a slave trader, plantation owner, and war hero. He was instrumental in forming the Ku Klux Klan – an organization that terrorized African Americans during Reconstruction – and sought to rehabilitate white supremacists following the end of the Civil War. For generations, his presence has cast a shadow over both Tennessee and its capital city.

In response to widespread outcry against Forrest’s legacy, local activists have called for his statue to be removed from its prominent spot in Memphis’ public park. Some have set up petitions demanding that Forrest’s likeness be replaced with someone more deserving of recognition, such as Ida B. Wells, a prominent journalist and civil rights activist who fought against Jim Crow laws throughout her lifetime.

Memphis leaders have yet to make any definitive statements about what they plan to do with Forrest’s statue, leaving many citizens uncertain about their next steps. But if this dispute can serve as an opportunity for better understanding between people of different backgrounds, then it could be a major stride forward towards achieving true justice and equality in our society.

If you’re interested in learning more about this subject matter – including how race relations play out in modern-day Memphis – we highly recommend watching “The Long Shadow,” an acclaimed documentary that delves deeply into this contentious issue. Through stories told by residents on all sides of this debate, “The Long Shadow” provides insight into how our nation’s history continues to shape our present day reality regarding racism and discrimination — not just in Tennessee but nationwide.