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Confederate Group Shuns Memphis, Moves Convention to Civil War Hotbed Richardson

There's been a bit of a fuss lately over the Memphis City Council's decision to change the name of three city parks, scrubbing them clean of any reference to the Confederacy in hopes of making them more inviting to residents who may not exactly have felt welcome in early-1860s Tennessee.

Gone are Jefferson Davis Park, named for the CSA's first president; Nathan Bedford Forrest Park, honoring a Confederate lieutenant general and the Klan's first grand wizard; and the straightforward Confederate Park. Temporarily at least, they'll be Memphis Park, Mississippi River Park and Health Sciences Park.

The switch has inspired a backlash from groups that celebrate Confederate heritage. Like the Ku Klux Klan.

Far less odious groups have also cried foul, too. The Sons of Confederate Veterans, which is much more interested in preserving an undeniably important piece of the country's history than celebrating racial injustice (an almost impossibly fine line to walk), is among them.

The group had been leaning toward hosting its 2016 convention in Memphis, which made a certain amount of sense. The Sons of the Confederacy is headquartered a few hours to the east, in Columbia, Tennessee, and the city served as an early Confederate base and the site of a significant naval battle.

The Memphis Commercial Appeal reported today that the organization has changed its mind and has instead chosen the noted Confederate stronghold of Richardson, Texas.

The decision isn't quite as arbitrary as it sounds. Ben Sewell, III, SOC's executive director, tells Unfair Park that local chapters submit proposals to host the annual convention and that only two had been received for 2016. One came from Memphis, the other from Richardson.

The decision to pick Richardson will still have to be ratified by the SOC's governing council, which Sewell expects to happen. He's not a member of the committee that made the recommendation and so can't speak for them but said Memphis' decision to rename the parks played a role.

"It certainly was a factor," he said. "It's something where you don't normally want to spend your money somewhere you don't feel [welcome]."

So, come July 2016, look for a ragtag band of gray-clad Civil War enthusiasts to be marching into Richardson.

(h/t Morning News)


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