Tennessee State Capitol Commission to vote on removal of Nathan Bedford Forrest bust July 9

Tennessee state capitol
(Dylan Skye Aycock/Community Impact Newspaper)

(Dylan Skye Aycock/Community Impact Newspaper)

With many residents calling for its removal in recent weeks, Tennessee’s State Capitol Commission will vote next week on whether to remove a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest that currently resides inside the state capitol in Nashville.

Gov. Bill Lee announced during a July 1 press briefing the commission—which is responsible for historic displays in the capitol—will meet July 9.

Many states and cities have made moves in recent weeks to remove statues of individuals involved in the Confederacy or with histories of racist behavior. Lee said the state will rely on processes already in place to determine if the bust will stay or be removed.

“I’ll make a specific proposal for what they’ll vote on next week but I want to acknowledge the importance of the process that we have here in Tennessee,” Lee said. “The commission process that is set up by the legislature protects the integrity of historical displays so that any changes are rooted on thoughtful and civic discourse. This process is the opposite of the mob rule that unfortunately has been dominating the national headlines around historical displays.”

Forrest was a Confederate cavalry leader in the Civil War who was also an early member of the Ku Klux Klan, according to the American Battlefield Trust, a nonprofit dedicated to education about American battlegrounds and historic figures.

On June 22, Gov. Bill Lee signed House Bill 2266, which removes a requirement that the governor proclaim July 13 as Nathan Bedford Forrest Day.

Lee said he is confident the decision made by the commission will be “fair and representative” of Tennesseans. The commission was established by the state legislature in 1986 and controls the furnishings, maintenance and use of the capitol, according to the commission website.
By Wendy Sturges
A Houston native and graduate of St. Edward's University in Austin, Wendy Sturges has worked as a community journalist covering local government, health care, business and development since 2011. She has worked with Community Impact since 2015 as a reporter and editor and moved to Tennessee in 2019.


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