Activists demand the removal of Nathan Bedford Forrest bust

Posted at 4:01 PM, Jun 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-10 23:43:41-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A group of activists gathered on Capitol Hill to protest the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust that remains inside the Capitol.

On Tuesday, a resolution to remove the bust failed in a 5-11 vote in the Naming, Designating, & Private Acts Committee.

Rally organizer, Venita Lewis, said “We want that damn bust down.” She wants lawmakers to remove the bust of Confederate General and KKK leader.

"It’s appalling to have that bust in the state Capitol. The grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, that’s what he’s mostly remembered for. It swelled my spirit up yesterday when one of the legislators said, we need to keep it up as a part of our history

A group of about 30-40 people joined her Wednesday afternoon; the chanted "take it down" and held posters and signs. One of them read, "Hatred should not be memorialized."

"It’s an insult to African-Americans in this great state, but that bust stands as a statue of what the state of Tennessee stands for, for it’s people," Lewis said.

State Representative Antonio Parkinson told his colleagues who don't agree with him, "Stop being toned death, this is not just what you're hearing in those chambers. The world is speaking to you and you're not listening."

Governor Bill Lee was asked Wednesday afternoon about the removal of the bust, he said, "Something should be done. That particular individual and his role in history is particularly painful to African Americans in this state; and for that reason, I think there should be a strong consideration and a strong dialogue around what happens to that, to that bust."

Removing the bust won't come easy because it is protected by law. The Tennessee Heritage Protection Act prohibits the removal, relocation, or renaming of a memorial that is, or is located on, public property.

Lewis says she will collect 5,000 signatures to hand to the Governor to remove the bust.