MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A new historical marker in Memphis will point out that a famed Confederate general was a prosperous slave trader before the Civil War.
The marker near the site of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s early home will be unveiled April 4 on the property of Calvary Episcopal Church, which is sponsoring it along with Rhodes College and the National Park Service, The Commercial Appeal reported .
A nearby 1955 historical marker dedicates 60 words to Forrest’s early life, noting his Mississippi childhood and terms as an aldermen. It says “business enterprises” made Forrest wealthy, but fails to note that his primary enterprise was slave trading.
Efforts to set the record straight began in December 2015, when local clergy and members of the Memphis Lynching Sites Project held a “Prayer Service for Truth and Justice” at the foot of the 1955 marker.
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The new, 462-word marker says Forrest operated a slave trading business at the site. History professor Tim Huebner said it will be the only historical marker in Memphis that refers to the slave trade.
“Every Sunday, I’d park in the church lot and realize that it once was the site of a slave market,” Huebner said. “And yet there was no mention of that deplorable history anywhere. We felt that needed to be acknowledged.”
The text of the new marker was written by some of Huebner’s students and approved by the National Park Service and professors at the University of Memphis.
“The National Park Service is pleased to provide funding from the Lower Mississippi Delta fund for this project,” said Timothy Good, the superintendent at Missouri’s Ulysses S. Grant National Historic site who helped approve the text. “The resulting interpretive marker will encourage heritage tourism to Memphis and will also educate Americans about the Memphis’ nationally significant history.”
The new marker will include other information about the Memphis slave trade, noting that Forrest was one of eight slave traders in the city.
After the Civil War, Forrest was also an early Ku Klux Klan leader.
Information from: The Commercial Appeal, http://www.commercialappeal.com