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Future of Nathan Bedford Forrest statue on I-65 still in limbo

Owner of the private property site dies
Posted at 5:51 PM, Nov 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-30 21:44:10-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The owner of a large Nathan Bedford Forrest statue along Interstate 65 has died. Some are now asking what that means for the future of the statue.

Some call it a proud tribute to history. Others say it's an embarrassing symbol of racism.

Nathan Bedford Forrest was a Confederate General and the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. And for the past 22 years, a monument to Forrestt has sat right there off I-65 near Nashville for all to see.

"It looks better than I expected to tell you the truth," said the late Jack Kershaw back in 1998.

He sculpted the 25-foot-statue, which was placed there just off the interstate surrounded by Confederate flags. The land was owned by his friend, Nashville businessman Bill Dorris, who believed Forrest to be an important historical figure.

In such an open location he expected some vandalism, which has happened multiple times. And each time, Dorris repaired it.

"It's been going on for ten years. We get hit some way or another and I'm tired of it," said Dorris back in 2008.

Dorris refused to move the statue despite pleas from those who view Forrest as a symbol of racism, hurtful to the thousands who drive by it each day. Three years ago, someone vandalized the monument with pink paint. This time Dorris, who had gone blind, left it as is.

"You say that's pink? A real good color, don't you think pink, " said Dorris at the time.

This past week, Bill Dorris died at the age of 84 with no wife or children. He leaves behind an estate and many now do wonder about the future of the statue. It's not likely that the statue will be moved.

Those who were close to Dorris say he set up a trust in his will specifically to care for the property and statue for years to come. Dorris belonged to a local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. He had said in the past he planned to leave the trust with that chapter. Members told Newschannel5 they have yet to hear anything about the details in his will.