Group protests bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest in state capitol

Tennessee

Protestors focused attention Thursday on the bust of a Confederate general in the Tennessee state capitol.

Over the years, there have been other calls to remove this second-floor capitol hill bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest.

“We are angry,” said TSU student protestor Jeneisha Harris. “We are tired of being tired of asking for the same thing.”

The group who identified themselves as ‘mostly students’ delivered a signed letter to Governor Bill Lee asking him to take the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest out of the capitol building and put it into the state museum.

The group asked the media to be there when, according to them, emails sent to the governor’s office went unanswered.

“We emailed for two weeks trying to get an appointment. So that is why we came in person today,” said Justin Jones a Vanderbilt divinity student.

Forrest remains one of the most controversial figures in Tennessee history and his bust has often drawn protestors. In 2017 a group gathered and shouted: “Tear it down.”

Forrest was known for his battlefield tactics during the Civil War, but prior to becoming a Confederate general, he was a slave trader.

After the conflict, he’s best known as an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan, but some accounts have him later disavowing the group.

Former Governor Bill Haslam tried to remove the Forrest bust in 2017.

“This, unfortunately, won’t be as quick as some would like including me,” said then-Governor Bill Haslam.

To remove monuments like the Forrest bust takes several steps of approval required by a 2013 law called the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act.

Haslam’s efforts failed at the first step by a single vote.

Lt. Governor Randy McNally sais the law is specific for anyone wanting to remove monuments. 

“Going through the proper channels would be to go through the Capitol Commission first, said McNally.

And you can likely expect more protests as long as this bust is on the second floor of the state capitol,

Efforts led by late State Senator Douglas Henry put the bust in the capitol during the late 1980s. 

A spokesperson for Governor Lee declined to comment on this story. 

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