NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – July 9 was the day the controversial Nathan Bedford Forrest bust was eligible to be removed from the capitol.
In March, the Historical Commission voted overwhelmingly to approve the petition waiver from the Tennessee State Capitol commission to authorize the removal after 120 days.
The vote was 25 to 1 in favor of accepting the waiver to remove the bust of the former Confederate General and the first Ku Klux Klan grand wizard.
“I am hurt; I am sad,” Senator Brenda Gilmore, a Nashville Democrat said.
For decades, the bust has sat between the House and Senate.
“When we get off that elevator, that’s the first thing that we see,” Gilmore said.
The push to remove the bust of Forrest comes with significant emotion for some Black Tennesseans.
“It is very hurtful to all of the African American legislators and some of my white colleagues I feel like understand what that bust represents to us,” Gilmore said.
The bust was unveiled in 1978 and has sparked multiple protests demanding its removal over the years.
“As I said, every time we get to the finish line it gets moved which is really unfair,” Gilmore said.
And more delays could come. A spokesperson for Lt. Governor Randy McNally’s office released a statement to News 2 saying:
“It is Lt. Governor McNally’s understanding that the item will appear on a State Building Commission’s July 22 meeting agenda. Lt. Governor McNally continues to stand by his assertion that the State Building Commission must concur in the action of the State Capitol Commission as has consistently been done in the past in similar situations. General Slatery’s published opinion supports that assertion.”
“I’m just puzzled of why there’s so much resistance to moving that bust to the museum; it’s not a request to destroy it or to erase history,” Gilmore said.
Admiral David Glasgow Farragut and Admiral Albert Gleaves could also be removed and taken to the Tennessee State Museum as well, a place Senator Gilmore says is the rightful location for the former Confederate leader.
“To have a general to massacre hundreds of black soldiers who had already surrendered…it’s just a travesty. We shouldn’t be worshiping and we should not be putting a person like that in a prominent position,” Gilmore said.
Governor Bill Lee’s office responded by saying, ”We are working to determine next steps and will provide updates accordingly. Our plans have not changed.”