Gov. Lee: Panel mulling Confederate bust in Capitol to meet soon

Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Lee announced Wednesday that a state panel that has the authority to help remove the bust of a former Confederate general and early leader of the Ku Klux Klan will meet soon.

No agenda of the July 9 meeting has been posted. However, Lee previously promised that the group would meet soon to address the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust after he made appointments to vacant commission seats.

Lee filled those empty seats last week, naming Logan Hampton, president of historically Black Lane College, to serve on the Capitol Commission. Additionally, Finance Commissioner Butch Eley will be commission chairman.

Forrest was a Confederate cavalry general who amassed a fortune as a plantation owner and slave trader in Memphis before the Civil War.

Removing the bust requires approval from the Capitol Commission before going to the state’s Historical Commission as laid out by the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act.

The bust was unveiled in 1978 and has sparked multiple protests demanding its removal for decades. The Capitol Commission in 2017 voted against moving it to the state museum. Yet national outcry over George Floyd’s death has sparked a new push to remove Confederate symbols, including renewed efforts to remove the Forrest bust.

A bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest is displayed in the Tennessee State Capitol Tuesday, June 9, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. Tennessee lawmakers remain torn on whether to support a proposal for the removal of a contentious bust of the former Confederate general and early leader of the Ku Klux Klan. If approved by the GOP-controlled Legislature, the measure encourages the bust of Forrest be removed from the Tennessee Capitol and instead be replaced with an “appropriate tribute to a deserving Tennessean.” (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

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