August 13, 2005: "Reverend" Al Sharpton, alongside D'Army Bailey and the Memphis chapter of the Nation of Islam, headlined a shindig at Nathan Bedford Forrest Park in downtown Memphis, across from the UT medical school, to rally for the removal of the statue/sarcophagus of Lt. General Forrest (Army of Tennessee, CSA).
Just a couple of miles away, a comparably sized group of born and bred Southerners gathered around the statue of President Jefferson Davis at Confederate Park on Front St. After giving a couple of brief interviews to the local media, I began wondering about the other side's rally. No one else was willing to check it out, so I went alone.
I must've stuck out like a sore thumb in my suit and tie, especially in 97-degree weather. But I went because I care. And I care, in part, because I have never understood why an entire region -- a fledgling upstart of a nation -- of mostly poor, non-slave-holding Southerners would form a volunteer army to battle against the logistically superior North to merely ensure that a relatively small percentage of the upper crust would be allowed to maintain an institution that was not practiced by 94% of the populace.
In short, the overall experience was fascinating. Perhaps I will delve with greater detail some other time.