Memphis Activists Plan Rally to Counter the KKK
This Saturday, Memphis, Tenn., is set to see one of the Ku Klux Klan’s “biggest rallies of all time,” as the Klan is advertising.
The KKK’s announced its plan to protest here a week after the Memphis City Council voted to rename three local parks that had Confederate ties—Confederate Park, Jefferson Davis Park, and Nathan Bedford Forrest Park. Nathan Bedford Forrest remains a controversial figure who is often recognized as the first “Grand Wizard” of the Ku Klux Klan—until he allegedly called for the disbandment of the group in 1869.
The city council decided to make the changes effective immediately after hearing that the Tennessee state legislature was considering a bill that would prohibit name changes to any monuments, memorials, parks or streets that were dedicated to military figures.
“I hope…that our citizens and residents will act as they always do and celebrate our diversity and our tolerance and just regard this as a nonevent,” Memphis Mayor A. C. Wharton said. “I’m begging them to do that and let these folks show up and do their thing and get out of town.”
The mayor brought up an important issue that has been hotly debated in Memphis since the city issued a permit to the KKK last month: What is the proper response to the KKK? Is ignoring them the best option—as many have advocated—or does silence equate to acquiescence? Would a counter-rally be effective, or could that provoke violence?