A few weeks ago, a fellow by the name of Jack Kershaw died in Nashville. The Dickson Herald, one of the nearby papers, has this obituary of him, hailing him as a renaissance man, an “artist, sculptor, homebuilder, farmer, lawyer, lecturer, Southern historian and Vanderbilt graduate.” It talks especially about his poetry and the lit mag he helped found, describing it as “one of the most influential publications in the history of American letters.”
What’s strange about this obituary is that, apart from a glancing half-sentence mention, it doesn’t say anything about what Kershaw was most famous for: being the attorney for James Earl Ray, the man who killed Martin Luther King. It gives similarly short mention to his great work of sculpture, a 27′ equestrian statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a general most famous for his war crimes during the Civil War; he was particularly noted for the systematic slaughter of any black soldiers who surrendered to his troops, and was later the first Grand Wizard of the KKK. I should note that Kershaw was not alone in considering Forrest a hero, a fact which in itself is rather alarming; but reading this man’s history, and the things he fought for, makes putting up a statue of this guy is something akin to putting up a statue to an Einsatzgruppeführer.
The New York Times has its own obituary of Kershaw. This one gives a little more context into the fellow who just died, including his most famous quote — “Somebody needs to say a good word for slavery.”
Lovely fellow. Couldn’t be happier to see him in a box.