Area residents of Lewisburg, population 12,114 in a 2018 estimate, hold Black Lives Matter signs during a rally in the city’s Rock Creek Park a dozen days after George Floyd died.

By Clint Confehr

LEWISBURG, TN — A community organizer read several names to the city council here recently and the elected leaders admitted they didn’t recognize them as Confederate soldiers’ names carved in stone at their county courthouse.

“Lest We Forget” is inscribed on the monument’s base, topped with the statue of a rebel soldier near where locals used to lynch Black folks. After describing the names, Bradford Pippen asked:  If the monument is to honor them and elected leaders don’t know their names, what purpose does that monument serve?

“It’s not teaching anyone,” Pippen explained while recalling his presentation. “It’s just simply holding space, and that space is occupied by a Confederate monument. We have to acknowledge that the Confederacy fought to maintain slavery and that monument is a symbol of white supremacy.”

Eight others at City Hall July 14 said they support Pippen and initiatives of Re:Solution the group for which he spoke.

Bradford Pippen, at the microphone, speaks at the Know Justice Know Peace rally in
Lewisburg. At right is Marshall County Judge Lee Bussart.

June 6, Re:Solution attracted 700 people to a rally in Lewisburg’s Rock Creek Park. On the square during Fun Friday July 31, activists distributed 250 backpacks with school supplies. Now, Re:Solution is on the web.

Re:Solution organizers include Dayrin Jones, J.J. Contreras, Mariel Nicholson, Quan Greer, Jon Sparkman, Victoria McCullough, Monique (Quay) Harris and Pippen. They’re equal members advocating peaceful change, Pippen said. If they can’t get the Confederate monument moved — they know that’s expensive — a monument denouncing lynching would be appropriate to teach both sides of the story. Pippen also explains Re:Solution advocates cooperation between Lewisburg, Marshall County and Chapel Hill to improve community life. That includes renaming Forrest High School. It’s namesake is Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest. Chapel Hill High School is the suggested name. Re:Solution wants security cameras at all public parks. Other requests include a civilian oversight committee to deal with Lewisburg police conduct issues, and deescalation training for law enforcement officers.

Know Justice Know Peace is how Re:Solution writes its motto. The group to be a non profit organization was started “shortly after George Floyd was murdered” May 25, Pippen said.

During Re:Solution’s rally: Judge Lee Bussart explained why Minneapolis officials amended charges against Derek Chauvin from manslaughter to second degree murder; Councilman Ben Hayslip spoke for unification, suggesting that people be more kind, gentle, open and honest; and Jerrie Henry, a county schools student services social worker, spoke about education and conditions for Black women in rural towns. Of the nearly 700 people attending the rally, about 400-500 stayed for a cook out, Pippen said.

The 26-year-old man cites 17-year-old Treyvon Martin’s 2012 shooting death in Sanford, Fla., as an awakening. He sees Floyd’s death as more than just another example of atrocities against Black people. “In national conversations,

Bradford Pippen holds a megaphone with other members of Re:Solution, further right, Mariel
Nicholson and Quan Greer. At right is Jared Robinson, an area resident. Photos by Yolanda Johnson

things in small, rural towns seem to be over-looked,” Pippen said. In his view, Ferguson, Mo., where Michael Brown was killed in 2014, is a suburb of St. Louis, like Lewisburg is a Nashville suburb.

“You need to take preventative measures to make sure something like that does not happen again,” Pippen said.

In 1903, lynching wasn’t unusual. But local schools didn’t teach that, or about ‘white caps’ invading Needmore, a Black neighborhood here, and then lynching two people at the courthouse, Pippen said. “Three others in Marshall County were lynched, but these were not things that I was taught in school.” And so he’s decided to call-out: racism; symbols of white supremacy; anything negatively affecting black or brown people in his community; and elected leaders for the rest of the story.

Clint Confehr

Clint Confehr — an American journalist since 1972 — first wrote for The Tennessee Tribune in 1999. His news writing and photography in South Central Tennessee and the Nashville Metropolitan Statistical...