MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Wednesday, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee made a bold recommendation to the State Capitol Commission.
The governor is recommending that the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust is better suited for the state museum instead of the state capitol.
”Forrest represents pain and suffering and brutal crimes committed against African Americans and that pain is very real for many of our Tennesseans,” said Lee.
He says putting the bust in the museum will allow the story of Forrest be put in better historical context.
“I am very proud of the governor for taking a step of courage,” said State Rep. London Lamar of Memphis.
Lamar sponsored a bill to end a legally required day of special observation for Forrest on July 13.
She says removing the bust from the capitol is a big step for all Tennesseans.
“I truly believe that individuals in the state should represent positive impacts on Tennessee history instead of negative impacts that Nathan Bedford Forrest had on Tennessee’s amazing history,” said Lamar.
“The issue of this bust that’s been going on in this state for 40 years is very different than the destructive tide that swept the nation in recent weeks,” said Lee.
After the death of George Floyd in late May, a slew of protests across the country have led to the removal of confederate statues.
However, Tennessee legislators would not budge on the Forrest issue.
On June 9, Tennessee lawmakers voted against a resolution to remove the bust of the Confederate General from the state capitol.
A month later the governor made his recommendation.
“The Forrest family are unanimously opposed to the Governor’s idea to remove the bus,” said Lee Millar, Sons of Confederate Veterans.
Lee Millar is a spokesperson for the Forrest family and the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
“Nathan Bedford Forrest was one of the foremost military geniuses that the world has ever seen and after the war, he worked to build Memphis, to rebuild the South, to put black citizens to work,” said Millar.
Lee said literally thousands of people reached out to him on both sides of the Forrest bust issue.
“He was the grand wizard of the KKK,” said Lamar. “He sold slaves on the auction block in Downtown Memphis, Tennessee and he killed over 200 innocent black soldiers. He committed treason.”
The State Capitol Commission will meet to discuss this issue Thursday.
The bust’s removal will ultimately need to be approved by the State Historical Commission.