Apparent Vandalism to Forrest Slave Market Marker at Calvary Church

As some of you heard during our live-streamed worship service Sunday morning, when Ardelle, Kate, and I were leaving Calvary Saturday night, we discovered that the historical marker Calvary dedicated on April 4, 2018, had been vandalized.

The marker was the result of research by Timothy Huebner’s students at Rhodes College, with support from the National Parks Service. It tells the fuller truth about Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general, probably the KKK’s first grand wizard, and human trafficker whose home and slave market were active on Calvary’s block. Active while our spiritual forbears were saying their prayers in this very building.

If nothing else, this gives us the chance to remember again what took place at Calvary on the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s murder in Memphis. If you haven’t seen the 9-minute video about the day, you can find it here.

This vandalism is a small thing compared to the violence that continues to be visited upon African Americans in our country, but it’s so much more than a marker for those of us at Calvary. It is a physical reminder of our complicity in the evils of this world and a challenge to change.

I know that we at Calvary will ensure that the marker will be restored or replaced as many times as necessary so that the fuller truth is told.

These words of John Lewis, whom we lost this  week along with the Rev. C. T. Vivian, seem relevant:

“Our actions entrench the power of the light on this planet. Every positive thought we pass between us makes room for more light. And if we do more than think, then our actions clear the path for even more light. That is why forgiveness and compassion must become more important principles in public life.”

May we only be emboldened to make a little more room for a little more light and truth in this world.

Faithfully yours,

Scott Walters