A monstrous statue of former KKK leader Nathan Bedford Forrest that stood alongside a highway outside Nashville has finally been demolished, much to the relief of the surrounding community.
Tim Fitzsimons of NBC News reported that “a statue of an early Ku Klux Klan leader and Confederate general that long raised the ire of motorists along Interstate 65 in Tennessee was removed Tuesday, Dec. 7, from the private property where it had sat for decades.”
Accordion to Fitzsimons, Bill Dorris, owner of the land where the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest stood, “died recently and left the property to the Battle of Nashville Trust,” who ultimately decided to have the statue removed.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the trust called the statue of Forrest “ugly” and said the statue was being removed because it “has no historical significance.”
Tennessee Senator Heidi Campbell called the decision “great news.” In a tweet, she wrote, “As Oak Hill Mayor, I implored the state to allow vegetation to grow in front of it (they kept that particular stretch trimmed in a way that was inconsistent with the rest of the roadside).”
Before his death, Dorris said he kept the statue on his property to showcase the “area’s history.” He also frequently proclaimed he would do anything to help preserve the memory of Forrest, who was not only a prominent Confederate Army general during the American Civil War but also the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan from 1867 to 1869.
A true symbol of hate, the statue of Forrest was designed by Jack Kershaw, most well-known for being the lawyer who represented James Earl Ray in his trial for the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. During its unveiling, when asked why he had designed the statue and what he intended its message to be, Kershaw said, “Somebody needs to say a good word for slavery.”
The Nathan Bedford Forrest statue had been a continuous trigger of controversy in the Nashville area for years, with vandals breaking in and coating it with bright pink paint in 2017.
Rather than allowing it to be put into storage or moved to another location, the Battle of Nashville Trust said they had just one plan for the statue’s remains once it was taken down: the local landfill.