Few Memphians know this history, so for the past three months students in my Historical Methods class at Rhodes College have been researching and writing about slavery and the slave trade in Memphis.
Students have researched business operations by examining the records of the Bolton, Dickens slave trading firm, the only dealership for which financial records survive. They have reviewed bills of sale and census records to understand enslaved women’s exploitation in the trade. And they have pored over runaway ads and police records to understand black resistance.Memphis area residents take part in a prayer service held in 2015 to call for removal of historic marker noting Forrest's 'business enterprise'.
Working with Calvary Episcopal Church, the Lynching Sites Project of Memphis, and the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, my students and I are writing the text for an additional historic marker to be placed at the site of Forrest’s slave yard.
While the current marker suppresses the past by referring only to Forrest’s house and “business practices,” we will strive to tell a more complete story.
Honestly confronting the past in Memphis demands no less.
Dec 8 2017 (all day)