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Memphis Update - From Southern Patriot - Billy Bearden

First - read the "story" from a leftist slant...,1426,MCA_437_4001411,00.html

Park talk: From 'you're nuts' to shared ideas
Dutch Treat lunch crowd hears options

By Lela Garlington

August 14, 2005

As it has for 51 years, the Dutch Treat Luncheon began Saturday with the Pledge of Allegiance, a prayer and the singing of the national anthem.

The fireworks started shortly thereafter with speaker Karl Schledwitz.

The Memphis businessman -- one of four speakers talking about the parks controversy -- repeated his call to move the statue of Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest and the interred remains of Forrest and his wife to Elmwood Cemetery.

Several in the audience heckled, jeered and shouted, "You're nuts!"

Others in the crowd of 60 to 70 people urged the hecklers to be respectful. The audience never got out of hand, but there in the back, ready to maintain order, were Shelby County Sheriff Mark Luttrell and two deputies.

By the time the meeting broke up 90 minutes later, a number of people had warmed to the idea, suggested by City Councilman Myron Lowery, of expanding Forrest Park by erecting a monument of an African-American Confederate soldier or adding a statue of anti-lynching crusader Ida B. Wells.

"I am delighted to see we might have something we can agree upon," Shelby County Historian Ed Williams told the crowd.

Memphian Eroneus 'Ron' Shipp sat quietly taking notes during the luncheon at the Piccadilly Cafeteria at 5272 Mt. Moriah View Road. A descendant of Wells, he would love to see a statue of her in a city park.

"That's what I'm pushing for. I'm glad I came for the information," he said. "I would like to a see a park with a wider, broader theme about how Memphis has handled its race situation over the years."

John Ellis, who is a great-great nephew of Forrest, had given Lowery the idea of expanding the parks. Ellis is opposed to moving the statue.

"We can give both sides of the war," he said adding that no one recognizes that thousands of Confederate soldiers were black.

As the meeting broke up, other ideas emerged. Andre Matthews, a Buffalo Soldier descendant, suggested that instead of three parks, Memphis should have all its Civil War history in a single park.

Lowery said he wants the parks discussion to continue in the community, or if necessary, a referendum next year.

Now the truth...

  After the vigil in Confederate Park, I drove over to the Picadilly resturant to attend the Dutch Treat Luncheon, where the topic was the 3 WBTS named city parks, and the public was invited. This was the main reason I traveled the 6 hours each way and spent darn near $100 in gas and food.

 My intention was to provide some knowlegable real live input to some of those making the decisions and running their mouths. I was hot and thirsty and still wearing my CS Infantry Corporal's uniform when I arrived 15 minutes after the meeting had started, and yes, I did make a scene upon entering amongst those present, exactly as planned ;-)

The room was full to capacity, so I joined those who were looking on at a waist high partition. The DTL group was probably 95% white , while the regular Picadilly customers were probably 95% black.

  Where I stood I noticed the room had been covered in "Save our Historic Parks" signs. A table at the entrance had a sign in sheet, and a basket for donations, along with some literature and books for sale. Behind the podium were US and Tennessee flags.

  An elderly gentleman (Ed Williamson) was finishing up telling the history of the 3 parks when I stood at the wall. After that another man stood up and began speaking. At the table beneath where I was standing were 2 women and a teen girl with some literature on their table. I asked could I read it, and they gladly passed me a copy.

  The ladies were part of the SOHP group, doing the activist thing by covering the room in signs and passing out info, but not very well I might add. The info was just basically "The parks are old, and we wish them not be changed" type - real weak.

  I handed their info back and pulled mine out and asked her to read it. It was 3 pages long. The 1st two sheets contained a synopsis of the 1871 US Congressional report clearing NB Forrest of Klan activities and exhonerating him of the 'Ft Pillow Massacre', and the 3rd page was his speech to the Jubilee of Pole Bearers.

 1/2 way thru the 2nd page, she lit up and I could've had a new girlfriend right then and there! I mean she smiled at me, slid over and told me to come sit next to her at their table, and during the rest of the meeting kept chatting and whispering (park stuff only!) in my ear. She gleefully handed it to her friend who had the same change in personality.

 It was about this time that Ken Schledwitz took the mic....

In his first speech about changing the parks, it was about saving the poor afreakin-amerikanz from their emotions, Forrest being the klan, and all kinds of hate the park represents to most.At that time I had the nerve to say the work "LIAR" outloud under my breath, directed at Schledwitz.

 From what I observed, at least 1/2 of the room were SOHP folks and some additional Good ol boy types wearing camo and reading Civil War Times. Everybody was quiet and respectful to a fault. This was about to change...

 The nerdy girl from UC Berkley (Lela Garlington) reporter wrote of shouts and "You're Nuts" calls, but that would've had to have taken place in the 15 minutes prior to my arrival, as nothing even close to shouts or 'nuts' calls were heard by me. Perhaps she embellished ???

 Anyway, everytime Schledwitz uttered an untruth about Forrest, I either said liar or booed. Yup I admit I was a 'Heckler' and heckled is what Schledwitz got.

 After a few of these utterances, I tapped Mr John Ellis on the shoulder (Forrest's decendant on my right) and asked him how long was he going to allow Schledwitz to continue bashing his ancestor like that.

 Mr John Ellis is around 50-60, a heavy set man with a deep loud voice, dressed nice and had a thick notebook full of notes and quotes. (He jumped on the chance to take the 3 pages of info I had brought, which I take to mean that those most involved in defending the General in Memphis at this most very important time lack some most very important information.)

  Mr Ellis said he had something coming up for him soon, just wait.

 A man was going around the room for the 2nd time collecting sheets of paper that had been supplied to those folks wishing to ask a question of the panel. The first time was just after my arrival. I had noticed on the women's literature there was such a space for written questions, so with Mr Ellis' borrowed pen, I quickly jotted down the first thing that came to my mind and passed it on.

" How is it that other groups and races can celebrate their heritage and history with the exception being those decended of Confederate Heritage?"

  Others in the room began to feed off my boos and comments towards Schledwitz enough so that when he finally sat down, he was booed off the stage by numerous folks! That was a long way from the claps he received coming up.

 The Q&A began , and my question was the second one read! The room erupted in applause and cheers! 1/3 of my mission was accomplished.

Councilman agitator Myron Lowery took first shot at an answer. He walks up to the podium, turns to the flags behind him and says "Do you see any Confederate flags here? No because they lost..." He began receiving a loud stream of boos. The audience had came over to my way of thinking- shame on me upsetting the decorum. Lowery sat down dejected. Noone else tried to answer my question :-)

The very next question asked was "If these parks are changed, aren't you setting us on the slippery slope of change when the city becomes majority Hispanic and they demand name changes?"

Lowery jumped back up to the microphone, and told us in the gallery that "No, he didn't believe so because he could think of nothing in their city offensive to the Hispanic community."

Someone on the other side blurted out that the name of 'Volunteers" would be offensive because of the name of the troops Tennessee sent to fight in the Mexican War. Someone else hollered out "What about Davey Crocket and the Alamo?"

 Lowery turned white and sat down.

Then came time for live questions from the audience.

Mr Ellis stood up and forcefully asked to submit 2 questions, which he was granted.

Both were directed towards Schledwitz. Mr Ellis whipped out his notebook and began grilling him. "Mr Schledwitz, WHO do you represent? You don't represent the city (and gave proof) and you don't represent the state (proof) and you don't represent this groups and that group and you claim you don't represent the UT hospital, so WHO are you working for?"

With a fake smile Schledwitz told us he was just a guy with an opinion, and was simply offering advice. He was booed again.

The other question I don't recall, but it was more of an indictment against him by Ellis for he attitude and statements against the General. When John sat down, he turned to me and asked how he did - I smiled and told him he 'kicked his ass!'

I met face to face afterwards with Schledwitz and told him while shaking his hand I disagreed with his biased opinion, and told him Forrest wasn't like he said. He began to tell me 'I have read where...' but I cut him off and aske dif he had read the 1871 Congressional record that cleared the General. He had not. I told him to read it before making any such wild statements like that again and to drop his proposal to seek the park property for the UT campus. That got the other 1/3rd of my mission accomplished. The final missing 1/3rd will be when the parks are saved for posterity.

Thanx & God Bless

Billy Bearden


For those who have not written your letters to Memphis yet, we have provided a letter writing tool to to assist in addressing and formatting a letter. Please do so today and then pass this on to others.

ALERT: Memphis - Save the Parks Guidelines - Letters to the Mayor

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