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Crews remove Nathan Bedford Forrest bust from Capitol

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Posted at 6:14 AM, Jul 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-23 23:40:57-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF)  — After years of protests and demands for the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest to be removed from the State Capitol, crews moved it to the Tennessee State Museum on Friday morning.

The process of removing the bust started just before 8 a.m. Crews also moved the busts of U.S. admirals David Farragut and Albert Greaves.

Thursday’s vote by the State Building Commission and Governor Bill Lee sealed the deal for these busts to be relocated.

The three busts are estimated to weigh up to 3,000 pounds each. Because of their weight, it required heavy duty equipment. A temporary construction zone was put in place to not only to protect the statues, but also the Capitol building itself.

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Preparations to relocate the busts began after Thursday's vote.

The west elevator was used to take the busts from the second floor of the Capitol to the ground floor loading dock and onto a truck. From there, they were taken to the museum.

It’s estimated to cost around $17,000 to move these statues. The bill is being covered by the state museum.

The three busts will be on display at the Tennessee State Museum starting Tuesday.

Watch: FILE video from when the bust was unveiled in 1978


HISTORY OF THE BUST

The first calls for the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest came in 1973. Senate Joint Resolution 54 that year -- from late Tennessee Senator Douglas Henry -- called for the procurement of the bust, to be placed on display at the State Capitol.

READ MORE: Fact Check: Was Nathan Bedford Forrest A Civil Rights Leader? Not Exactly

On April 13, 1973, the resolution was approved.

Sculpted by Loura Jane Herndon Baxendale, the bust was installed at the Capitol on November 5, 1978. The installation was completed amid protests against the bust the same day.

In 2010, the bust was moved from its place outside the doors of the House of Representatives to the main corridor between the Senate and House chambers.

CALLS FOR THE BUST'S REMOVAL

Following the Charleston, S.C. mass shooting in June 2015, a number of Democrat and Republican lawmakers and public officials called for the removal of the Forrest bust. Supporting its removal were Representative Jim Cooper, then-Representative Bob Corker, then-Governor Bill Haslam and then-Senator Bob Corker.

On September 1, 2017, despite the calls to remove it, a state commission voted 7-5 to keep the bust at the Capitol. In December that same year, then-Representative, now-Senator Brenda Gilmore filed legislation to have the bust relocated to the Tennessee State Museum.

Protests against the bust have continued consistently since then. In December 2019, 43,000 virtual signatures calling for the removal of the bust were delivered to Governor Bill Lee's office.

The protests hit a fever pitch again in June 2020 after George Floyd's death. On July 9, 2020, the State Capitol Commission voted 9-2 to have the bust removed, along with the busts of along with busts of Admiral David Farragut and Admiral Albert Gleaves.

The final vote to have the bust moved from the Capitol to the State Museum was made Thursday by Tennessee's State Building Commission, approving the removal of the bust 5-2.


More In-Depth:

A look at the history of the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust at the Capitol