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Tennessee Historical Commission votes to remove Nathan Bedford Forrest bust from Capitol

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Posted at 7:51 AM, Mar 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-10 11:17:57-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF)  — The Tennessee Historical Commission has voted to move the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest from the Tennessee State Capitol to the Tennessee State Museum.

The Tennessee Historical Commission made their final decision to move the bust with a 25 to 1 vote on Tuesday. Activists have been calling for its removal for years.

However, a spokesperson for Speaker Cameron Sexton said the legislature will be waiting on AG Slatery's guidance before making a vote.

“From the beginning, the goal has always been to follow the process and requirements laid out in current law related to the removal of an historical monument or statue under the Heritage Protection Act. In working with Lt. Gov. McNally and the legislature, Speaker Sexton feels like we have conveyed our thoughts and the correct direction moving forward. While the Historical Commission has decided to proceed on this matter with today’s vote, we await Attorney General Slatery’s guidance to ensure this process has been precisely and lawfully followed.”

Gov. Bill Lee and the State Capitol Commission both recommended the bust be moved to the state museum. And after the commission's decision, he maintained that the removal process should begin soon.

Last year, the Capitol Commission voted to remove not only Forrest's bust, but the busts of Admiral David Farragut and Admiral Albert Gleaves, as well.

The Forrest bust was unveiled in 1978 and has sparked multiple protests demanding its removal over the years.

Nathan Bedford Forrest was a Confederate general and early leader of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1800s. The Council on American-Islamic Relations says removing the bust would send a strong message of support to all those who value equality and respect for others.

However, some say the removal is bittersweet as it only happens after years of resistance.

"I'm glad that we finally did the right thing. But I'm disappointed that it took this long to get done. I'm disappointed about some of the obstacles that was put in front of the board and the commissions in order to get to this point," said Nashville Democrat Representative Vincent Dixie.

Still, Dixie said he thinks this is a move in the right direction.

Related story: Capitol Commission votes to remove Nathan Bedford Forrest bust, two others from Capitol