NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Confederate monument that has been at the center of debate for years in Nashville will remain in Centennial Park following a decision made Friday by the Tennessee Historical Society.
The Tennessee Historical Society voted to reject a petition made by the Metro Board of Parks and Recreation in March 2022 to remove the statue, citing the Heritage Protection Act which says no memorial of a historic conflict, entity, event, figure, or organization on public property should be moved.
The Private Confederate Monument was erected in 1909 to “help bereaved Southerners interpret the meaning and implications of defeat,” according to the Metro Arts Commission. The statue depicts an unknown soldier carved from bronze metal.
In 2019, the monument was vandalized and the words, “They were racists,” were spray painted on the front.
Some believe statues like these represent racism, and the country cannot move forward until they are removed.
“Take them down and then we can have a serious conversation about how we want actually memorialize this moment, and make sure we include a lot of the African Americans who died and fought in the civil war, that we include a much more complex history,” said David Ikard, a Vanderbilt University African American and Diaspora Studies professor told News 2 in August 2020.
However, H. Edward Phillips, an attorney for the Sons of Confederate Veterans said in order to learn about the Civil War, both sides need to be represented.
“It’s all connected,” Phillips said. “Without each one of our facets of history, each one of the periods, we wouldn’t be where we are today and have the things to be thankful for that we can be thankful for. Each one of those things had to happen in order for us to be where we are in the present.”
“The thing is it was a different time, a different place, and if we keep measuring our future and the current state of things by our past, we’ll never ever move forward from it,” Phillips continued.
The Tennessee Historical Commission declined to comment on the decision.
Metro Board of Parks and Recreation told News 2 its members are waiting to receive the official, Final Order from the Tennessee Historical Commission documenting its decision before determining what steps to take next.