MEMPHIS, Tenn. (JTA) — Around 250 communal organizations and religious groups joined the mayors of Memphis and Shelby County, Tenn., in publishing a statement supporting diversity on the day the Ku Klux Klan staged a rally in the city.
"We believe our city is stronger and richer for its broad array of faith- and ethnic-based communities," said the statement, which was wrapped around the front page of the Memphis Commercial Appeal on Saturday. "Because we don’t fear those who are different, we can embrace all the diverse cultures and faiths that make up the beautiful mosaic that is Memphis."
The ad, spearheaded by the Memphis Jewish Federation, drew signatories from Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist groups and congregations, as well as numerous social action groups.
At the KKK rally at the Shelby County Courthouse in downtown Memphis, 61 Klansmen protested recent decisions by the city to rename parks commemorating Confederacy figures, notably Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general who was among the founders of the white supremacist group in the war’s aftermath.
The rally, held in a driving rain, passed without event and did not clash with anti-Klan protests held separately.
City officials had expressed concerns of a repeat of clashes between Klansmen and protesters in 1998 that led to riots.