NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A bill to end Nathan Bedford Forrest Day as a state holiday narrowly passed in a Tennessee House committee by one vote on Tuesday afternoon.
Forrest is a controversial figure in Tennessee's history. As slave trader and the first Grand Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan, he is also known as a historic general in the Confederate Army.
The bill, which is sponsored by Representative London Lamar (D-Memphis), would stop designating July 13 as Nathan Bedford Forrest Day. It passed in the House naming, designating and private acts committee.
"What is means to Tennessee is that we are going to continue to move forward. We are going to continue to make Tennessee a welcoming state for everybody. That we are going to recognize that we don't have a perfect past, but we can get it right," Rep. Lamar said upon the bill's passing.
Earlier in the day, the same committee members voted to reject a resolution to remove the bust of Forrest from the state capitol building.
Some Republican state lawmakers have opposed both the removal of Forrest's bust from the state capitol and ending the holiday.
Rep. Lamar said the continuation of the holiday is an insult to the black community.
"I don't know about y'all, but it breaks my heart to watch a man die with an officer's knee in his neck," Rep. Lamar said. "What it does is it reminds me of Nathan Bedford Forest having chains around black people's necks as he sold them as slaves in my city in Memphis, Tennessee."
The bill will now move to the calendar and rules committee before being heard on the House floor.