NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – There is no shortage of bills on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill this year to deal with removal of Confederate monuments, but one in particular aims at the controversial bust between the House and Senate chambers with the sponsor calling it “a respectful compromise.”
For nearly 40 years, the bust of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest has been on the capitol’s second floor.
Nashville state lawmaker Brenda Gilmore was among those protesting Forrest’s bust last summer in the wake of the Charlottesville tragedy. Now she has a bill to move it.
Forrest remains a polarizing figure as he was a slave trader before the Civil War and an early leader of the Klan afterwards. Some historic accounts say he later disavowed the group.
Efforts to remove the bust, spearheaded by Governor Bill Haslam, stalled by one vote last fall in its initial step before the Tennessee Historical Commission.
“It’s a respectful compromise in that it will be removed from the state capitol to the new state museum,” says Rep. Gilmore.
She proposes some context added instead of just a name on the bust, like it is now when people see it at the capitol.
“Right now, all they do is pass by the bust with absolutely no education provided for it, and it’s also respectful for those people who still want to celebrate Mr. Nathan Bedford Forrest,” the Nashville lawmaker told News 2.
Putting Forrest in the right context will be no easy task, whether it be a bust or place in history. It’s been debated in Tennessee since the Civil War.
The measure to remove the bust is just starting the committee process. At least four other bills on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill have been filed in response to the removal of confederate statues, including Forrest’s, from former Memphis parks.
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