Local Leaders on Vote to Remove Bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest


  • Nathan Bedford Forrest Boyhood Home/Facebook

The vote by the Tennessee Historical Commission on whether or not to remove the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest from the Tennessee State Capitol has been rescheduled from February 17th to March 9th.

The State Capitol Commission voted in favor of removing the bust from the Capitol in July, and petitioned the Historical Commission to move the bust from the Capitol to the Tennessee State Museum. Forrest was a Confederate general, slave trader, and Ku Klux Klan leader. The sculpture of his likeness has been front and center in the Tennessee State Capitol Building since the late 1970s. The Flyer spoke to three local leaders about the issue.
Michalyn Easter-Thomas of the Memphis City Council
  • Michalyn Easter-Thomas of the Memphis City Council

"We should pay close attention to what we choose to memorialize and render as proud history, said Memphis City Council member Michalyn Easter-Thomas. "My hope is that our state legislators vote to remove the bust that symbolizes murder, oppression, and tyranny in this city, region, state, and nation. However, no matter the outcome, it can be assured that the fight for justice will continue no matter whose bust is on the pedestal." 

“I obviously don't agree with the statue being in the Capitol and I’ve expressed that. I did a live video talking about that. I continue to disagree with that symbol governing over the most powerful building in the state of Tennessee," said Tennessee State Representative Antonio Parkinson.

Tennessee State Representative Antonio Parkinson
  • Tennessee State Representative Antonio Parkinson

"This statue sits in the most prominent place when you get off the elevator. I vehemently oppose it. However, it is nowhere near my highest priority in regards to what I think is important for people at this time. We are coming out probably the worst period in most Americans lives, financially, mentally and even educationally. My priorities are the health of our community and the education of our children and how we put money on the table of the people we represent. That statue doesn't address any of those. The governor's office and the General Assembly know exactly where I stand on that, they know exactly what to do."       

Tennessee State Representative London Lamar
  • Tennessee State Representative London Lamar

“There is no question that the history of Nathan Bedford Forrest is a symbol of hate," said State Representative London Lamar. "The Confederacy itself symbolized the legalization of slavery where Nathan Bedford became rich from selling slaves on an auction block in Memphis, Tennessee, and served as the first Grand Wizard of the KKK. There is no positive Tennessee history behind Nathan Bedford Forrest, so there is no reason that Tennessee should be honoring him with a bust in our State Capitol. The people that we should be honoring are those who make a positive impact on our State’s history.

"The bust should be moved to the Tennessee State Museum because removing this bust does absolutely nothing to remove Tennessee’s history, it simply removes the fact that Tennessee seems to praise the man who obviously symbolizes white supremacy through his determination to keep slavery legal in this state and led mass murder on African Americans. I hope the commission votes to remove the bust to the museum where the story of Nathan Bedford Forrest can be told in the appropriate context.“ 

Keep the Flyer Free!

Always independent, always free (never a paywall),
the Memphis Flyer is your source for the best in local news and information.

Now we want to expand and enhance our work.
That's why we're asking you to join us as a Frequent Flyer member.

You'll get membership perks (find out more about those here) and help us continue to deliver the independent journalism you've come to expect.

Add a comment