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Lawmaker wants to put an end to Nathan Bedford Forrest Day in Tennessee

Posted: 7:20 PM, Jan 21, 2020

Updated: 7:20 PM, Jan 21, 2020 By: Kyle Horan, News Channel 5 Nashville

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A Memphis lawmaker is proposing legislation that would end the celebratory day of one of Tennessee's most controversial figures.

July 13 is Nathan Bedford Forrest day in Tennessee. Under the current rules, every year in the summer, the governor of Tennessee is required to sign a proclamation as a day of special observance of Forrest.

Forrest was a Confederate General, Grand Wizard and founder of the Ku Klux Klan as well as amassing a fortune as a slave trader.

In 2019, Governor Bill Lee received backlash for signing the measure. Shortly afterwards, he released this statement on Twitter.

Gov. Bill Lee @GovBillLee  · Jul 15, 2019 This afternoon, I sat down for an interview to clear the air on something that everyone’s been talking about – the Nathan Bedford Forrest Proclamation. Gov. Bill Lee @GovBillLee While it is my job as governor to enforce the law, I want Tennesseans to know where my heart is on this issue. Our state’s history is rich, complex and in some cases painful. With this in mind, I will be working to change this law. 4:13 PM - Jul 15, 2019

Now, state Representative London Lamar has filed legislation that would end Nathan Bedford Forrest's special day in Tennessee.

Rep. Lamar is also opposed to a bust of Forrest that sits prominently in the state capitol.

"Our society is more multicultural than ever. I think he's had such a negative impact on many of the cultures that reside here in Tennessee," she said, "He doesn't need to have a bust in the capitol, where every day I walk past and I look at him and I know what he's done to many of my ancestors and those who are part of my community. That's not what the legislature is about. That's not what we want to see when we're walking into the Tennessee House Chamber and our goal is to sit there and pass legislation that's going to benefit all Tennesseans, whether you're black, white, male, female from overseas, born in Tennessee. Wherever. That's not what he represented. I would like to see someone there who has fought for inclusivity for all people."

The Capitol Commission will meet to discuss the fate of Forrest's bust in February. Governor Lee has suggested some historical context be added to the marker.

The Governor also plans to file his own legislation to end Nathan Bedford Forrest Day.


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