Metro Parks Board has sought permission to remove the Confederate Private Monument featuring soldier Sam Davis from Centennial Park. They submitted the formal request to the Tennessee Historical Commission (THC); Tennessee Code requires that THC wait at least 60 days before holding a hearing for a petition.
Renewed discussion to remove the monument began during January’s board meeting. Vice-Chair Susannah Scott-Barnes asserted that the statue was a “divisive symbol.” She noted that, in light of last year’s protests and the continued climate over Confederate statues nationwide, any vandalism would pose a cost issue for the board. Although the board requires state permission to relocate or remove the monument, the costs to maintain the statue are sourced from local funds.
“Considering all the events that were happening this summer, it would make sense for us to revisit it,” stated Scott-Barnes. “I see this as a divisive symbol that I have concerns about as a park board member and I would like to hear from the rest of the board. I would also like to raise the point that it is park’s property and if this vandalism, you know, is more severe or continues, that becomes kind of a cost issue for the park’s department to continue maintaining it.”
Other board members agreed with Scott-Barnes’ assessment that the statue serves as a divisive symbol. Members approved the motion to petition THC for removing the statue unanimously.
Board members didn’t respond to a request for comment from The Tennessee Star by press time.
Sam Davis, known as the “Boy Hero of the Confederacy,” was a Confederate soldier captured by Union forces and hanged for his unwillingness to reveal the identity of Confederate spies. His childhood home is a museum, and he has several monuments throughout the state – including one in front of the Tennessee State Capitol dedicated in 1915.
The Centennial Park monument of the soldier was first erected in 1909.
This isn’t the first time that the statue’s fate was called into question by the board. After vandals smeared the statue with red paint and wrote “THEY WERE RACISTS” across the affixed plaque bearing the names of hundreds of Confederate soldiers in 2019, the board considered relocating the statue elsewhere in the park. Ultimately, they voted to leave the monument alone.
The THC has yet to decide on the petition of the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust in the Capitol rotunda, submitted last August.
– – –