Collierville leaders not moving on Confederate marker

By , Daily Memphian Updated: September 29, 2020 7:23 AM CT | Published: September 28, 2020 7:18 PM CT

Collierville leaders declined Monday night to put a much-debated item regarding Confederate stone monument in Town Square Park on a future agenda .

The mayor offered board members the opportunity to make a motion on future discussion of the relic and none did. The lack of a motion came after several speakers from both sides of the issue addressed the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

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The relic was donated by the United Daughters of Confederacy to the town more than 70 years ago to commemorate battles fought in the suburb during the Civil War. Some note that was during the Jim Crow era.

Some residents in Collierville have begged leaders for the monument to stay on the square’s west side. Those who want it removed have asked officials to relocate it to a less-visited spot that is more appropriate, such as a cemetery where soldiers are buried or Tom Brooks Park where the battle was fought. 

Recently, the monument has sparked controversy as residents throughout Shelby County, including some who live in Collierville, have held protests showing their displeasure with the monument.

Some of those spoke during Monday night’s meeting, while a significant number of people spoke in favor of leaving the monument. Those who favored the monument took issue with opponents characterizing them as racists or fascists.

At a Monday afternoon press conference in front of Town Hall, several opponents continued to lobby for the monument’s removal. Emily Fulmer, a Collierville resident, announced Collierville Community Justice, a coalition fighting racism with emphasis on inclusion within the school district, community and government.

She said those opposed to the monument hope the town will establish a committee to discuss removing and relocating marker.

They also hope the town will design and create unbiased sign at a future location to give historical context to the monument.

Line Marie Kjeldsen moved to Collierville from Europe about a year ago. She loved the suburban small-town feel on the surface, but recently said she sometimes regrets choosing the town. When she learned about the monument, she thought it was “an oversight.”

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“I mean, who in 2020 would allow an oppressive, racist symbol to crown their city to be glorified, in the middle of a recreational space, that is supposed to be for the enjoyment of all citizens?” she said. “It has been disheartening to learn some of the arguments used to defend the monument – claiming ‘history’ and ‘heritage’ and ‘hey, (you) should just stop being offended’ as reasons why a racist symbol should be allowed to stay.”

At the meeting Monday evening, activists from Collierville and Shelby County – as they have done at several recent meetings – addressed the town board asking leaders for removal of the stone monument.

Chelsea Glass read comments from Collierville Facebook groups where people have threatened harm.

“What is this marker worth to you?” Glass, a Collierville resident, asked the board. “We are headed on a dangerous and violent trajectory. ... Apathy is no longer acceptable.”

As removal was requested, those in the audience in favor of leaving the monument scoffed and mumbled their disagreements.

The board also heard from some in favor of keeping the monument. Those in the audience in agreement said “Amen.”

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“I don’t understand where all the hate is coming from,” Debbie Wood, a 20-year resident said. “When you have a heart full of Jesus there is no room for the hate.”

“I’m happy to not be on (protesters’) side,” Anne Calderwood, Conservative Women of Collierville president, said before talking about history and practices in other countries. “ ... These protesters are not interested in debate of any sort, which is unfortunate because a debate about the monument’s presence in our community would be insightful and educational.”

Protesters said ahead of the meeting they have appointments in coming days with town leaders.

The monument is protected by the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act and cannot be removed without the approval of the Tennessee Heritage Commission.

After the speakers from both sides presented their stance, Mayor Stan Joyner asked if any aldermen had a motion to put the item on a future agenda for discussion.

The request was met with silence, the the board moved on to the next agenda item.


Collierville Town Square Park Confederate monuments Confederate relic Collierville Board of Mayor and Alderman
Abigail Warren

Abigail Warren

Abigail Warren is a lifelong resident of Shelby County and a graduate of the University of Memphis. She has worked for several local publications and covers the suburbs for The Daily Memphian.


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