NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) —The Tennessee Historical Commission has voted to move a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest from the State Capitol, moving forward in a years-long controversy surrounding the bust.
Commission members met virtually Tuesday and voted 25 to 1 on the petition for a waiver to remove the controversial bust of the Forrest, a Confederate General and early KKK leader, and Admirals David Farragut and Albert Gleaves, from the State Capitol.
The busts are to be moved to the Tennessee State Museum.
Tuesday's meeting lasted more than five hours and a majority of the 33 people scheduled for public comments spoke in favor of removing the bust.
“This decision has been a long time coming. For far too long, both lawmakers and visitors to the Capitol have had to endure walking past a bust honoring a disgraced Confederate soldier and a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. That statute represents one of the most shameful parts of both American and Tennessee history and it was personally embarrassing to have to see it every time I walk into the House chamber.” - Democratic Caucus Chairman Vincent Dixie
Gov. Bill Lee provided a pre-recorded video statement where he said "history without understanding is quickly forgotten."
Lee previously recommended the Forrest bust be moved to the Tennessee State Museum.
MTSU History Professor Dr. Derek Frisby provided historical context to the commission and spoke about the "Lost Cause Mythology," following the fall of the Confederacy. He says it seeks to find some other means for explaining Confederate drive for independence other than slavery - fitting into context of Nathan Bedford Forrest.
Executive Director of the Tennessee State Museum Ashley Howell explained how the Forrest bust would be displayed in the State Museum, saying it's "important that we tell a full story."
Both ACLU-TN and CAIR called for the removal of the bust and applauded the move Tuesday.
“We welcome this nearly unanimous vote as a clear sign that white supremacy and racism will not be honored or celebrated in Tennessee,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper.