Memphis Marker Noting Nathan Bedford Forrest's Slave Trading Apparently VandalizedHistorians in the News
tags: slavery, memorials, Nathan Bedford Forrest, public history, Ku Klux Klan
A downtown Memphis historical marker detailing Nathan Bedford Forrest’s involvement in slave trading was broken off from its stand in an apparent act of vandalism, said a Rhodes College history professor involved in its placement.
The marker, erected in April 2018, no longer was displayed at its location outside Calvary Episcopal Church, near the corner of B.B. King Boulevard and Adams Avenue, on Sunday morning.
Tim Huebner, a Rhodes College history professor and member of Calvary Episcopal Church, said he was notified Saturday afternoon that the marker was broken.
Titled “Forrest and the Memphis Slave Trade,” the marker provides context on a nearby 1955 historical marker of “Forrest’s Early Home” that said the former Confederate Army general and Ku Klux Klan member’s “business enterprises made him wealthy.” That marker was still standing Sunday morning.
The newer marker pointed out Forrest’s main business on that site was slave trading and "Forrest uniquely engaged in the buying and selling of Africans illegally smuggled into the United States, in violation of an 1808 congressional ban."
Because the marker sits several feet off the street and away from traffic, Huebner said, he doesn't imagine it was broken accidentally. He said it’s hard to speculate what would motivate someone to vandalize the marker but added that “we are in the middle of a great reckoning on the issue of race right now.”