Earlier this week, 11 State Representatives voted to keep the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest on display inside of the Tennessee State Capital. Forrest was a slave trader, Confederate General, war criminal, and the 1st Grand Wizard of the KKK. So why is he immortalized in our State Capital? Well, later in life, there are stories that Forrest repented and promoted racial harmony, having said that, I personally don't think that's the reason his bust was chosen nor do I feel that him repenting erases all of the bad he did, so I emailed all 11 of the State Reps that voted to keep Forrest's bust inside the following message:
My name is James Raymer and I am a concerned citizen. One of the highest honors a person in our great state of Tennessee can receive is having their bust displayed at the Tennessee State Capital. Yesterday, you voted to keep the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest on display at the capital and I would like to know why.
Forrest was a slave trader, a Confederate General, war criminal, and the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. As a Confederate General, Forrest famously slaughtered Union troops, most of whom were black, that had already surrendered at the Battle of Fort Pillow. Under his leadership, the KKK used violence and intimidation to suppress the black vote during the elections of 1868. While he did repent and promote racial harmony later in life, that does not undo all of the bad he did. Nathan Bedford Forrest has a lot of blood on his hands.
The honor of having a bust in the state capital should be reserved for people of the highest character. Please explain to me why you voted to keep Forrest's bust on display. Please do not tell me "history," as we use books to keep history, not busts. Do the hundreds, possibly thousands, of black lives enslaved, beaten, and slaughtered under Forrest not matter to you?
James A Raymer
The only person to respond was John Ragan who represents District 33. Mr. Ragan's first response was a copy and pasted article about how black people loved Forrest, (Obviously not the hundreds, possibly thousands he enslaved or murdered) which you can read HERE
I then pressed Mr. Ragan, saying:
Copying and pasting a somewhat historically inaccurate article does not answer the question I asked you. The facts remain that Forrest was a slave trader, he CHOSE to enlist in the Confederate Army so he could continue his slave trade and protect his forune. Close to 300 black soldiers that had surrendered were slaughtered under his command. He was the first Grand Wizard of the KKK and because of his prestige, the Klan was able to expand membership. So again, I ask you:
Do the hundreds, if not thousands, of black lives enslaved, beaten,and murdered under Forrest not matter to you?
That's when Mr. Ragan got in his feelings. He accused me of insulting him (trust me, if I wanted to insult him, it would've been a lot worse than that) and for some reason, brought up his heritage and military record. Check the pics below:
I tried to bring Mr. Ragan back in because I felt he had not answered my questions and honestly, I had no idea what he was talking about in that email, so I replied:
Your reply to me is a horrible attempt at changing the subject and dodging the question at hand. I never asked for your heritage, nor your military record, nor your apology for slavery. I asked you why someone that had committed such atrocities was receiving an honor that should only be bestowed to those of the highest character. What Nathan Bedford Forrest did in his later life does not bring back the black lives lost under his command or ruined because of his involvement in slavery. For the THIRD time I ask you: Do the hundreds, if not thousands, of black lives enslaved, beaten,and murdered under Forrest not matter to you?
Big John has yet to reply to my last email, but I plan on following up next week, keep ya posted!