Gov. Lee recommends Nathan Bedford Forrest bust be moved to Tennessee State Museum

Posted at 3:32 PM, Jul 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-08 17:15:59-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Governor Bill Lee recommended that the controversial Nathan Bedford Forrest bust be moved to the Tennessee State Museum.

Forrest's controversial history in the state has spurred numerous protests in Nashville. He was a known slave trader, Confederate general and the first grand wizard of the KKK.

"It's not just another Confederate symbol. There are reasons that this particular bust, for 40 years, has stood above others and points to one of the most regretful and painful chapters of our history," Lee explained during a press conference Wednesday.

However, the governor made sure to emphasize Forrest's contribution to the state.

"Nathan Bedford Forrest is a renowned military tactician and the bust sits opposite a fellow Tennessean, a Union admiral and an esteemed military leader, David Farragut. In tandem, these two men represent the push and pull of our state's history and the conflict that forged so much of our identity and the role that we have had in striving to become a more perfect union," explained Gov. Lee.

On Thursday the State Capitol Commission is expected to vote on whether the bust will remain in the Capitol or if it will be moved to the Tennessee State Museum.

The governor recommended the bust be moved to the museum in order so that the full story of Forrest's life can be told in the correct context of history.

"...the most appropriate way to add context is to move it to the museum where the bust can be seen in its full context," said Lee.

However, if the commission does not agree and votes to keep it in the Capitol, he recommended that context be added around or on the bust inside the State House.

On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee is calling for the removal of the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust. And on Tuesday, Sen. Brenda Gilmore told NewsChannel 5she would be asking the commission to move the bust, saying Forrest doesn't belong in a place of honor alongside the state's past leaders.