Onlookers streamed into Health Sciences and Memphis parks to see the end of an era: Civil War monuments to Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest and the Confederacy’s first and only President Jefferson Davis would stand no more. Here, young girls stand absorbed by the process of securing restraints to move the Forrest statue from its longtime place of honor and into storage, a form of obscurity, metaphorically speaking.

While city officials worked behind the scenes to determine legal maneuvers to remove the statues in spite of recent state law, Memphians of every stripe participated in actions designed to keep the issue out front. For them, the goal was to immediately remove the statues, while Mayor Jim Strickland vowed to have them gone by the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4. The following photo essay shows a series of events where a multiracial coalition of residents kept the pressure turned up until monuments—arguably not Civil War honorifics at all since they were installed decades later—came down.

Fully secured, crews carefully hoisted the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue off its pedestal, dedicated at that site in 1905.
At nearby Memphis Park, the Jefferson Davis Statue was also reinforced for safe removal.
Memphis police swarmed the area around the parks as the City Council voted on the takedown process. Not everyone was happy with the decision.
Local activist Keedran Franklin congratulates Tami Sawyer, creator of the #TakeEmDown901 movement which picked up a years-long fight to remove Confederate symbols on public property. For her and the Rev. Earle Fisher, standing between her and Franklin, this fight represented a huge victory.
As they say in baseball, “He gone.” Nathan Bedford Forrest never rides again.
Community members cross Union Avenue (top) while gathering at Health Sciences Park in solidarity with anti-racism protestors in Charlotteville, Virginia, where white nationalists flocked to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue Aug. 12.
The next day, hundreds joined #TakeEmDown901 in sweltering heat at Health Sciences Park, demanding immediate removal.

The day after removal …

The past—a memorial plaque honoring Forrest— and the future—a black girl.

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