Civil War Confederate General, slave trader and early KKK leader now has his own special day in Tennessee.
Governor Bill Lee signed a proclamation making Saturday, July 13, Nathan Bedford Forrest Day in the state, according to WTVF.
Veterans for Peace and other activists have been trying for years to remove the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust from the capitol. And now, they are calling this a slap in the face.
“How can you be a person of humanity, how and then support that statue, support a day when he was the head of the KKK, how can you do that,” Jim Wohlgemuth, with Veterans for Peace, told local news. “To do this again, to honor Nathan Bedford Forrest again with a day is just saying, guess what, if you’re a person of color we don’t care about you.”
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Forrest’s bust is on display in the state capitol and a statue of him is located on private property in plain sight of drivers on Interstate 65 in Nashville. It has been vandalized and has been the subject of controversy in recent years.
According to Battlefields.org:
“In April 1864, Forrest and his men were involved in one of the most controversial episodes of the Civil War. After surrounding Fort Pillow, near Memphis, Forrest demanded the surrender of the garrison, which included 262 soldiers of the U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery.
“When the Union forces refused, Forrest’s men easily overran the fort. Then, according to several eyewitness accounts, the Confederates, enraged by the sight of Black men in Federal uniform, executed many of the troops after they had surrendered: an unambiguous war crime. Though accounts varied, the incident stands as one of the most gruesome of the Civil War era; ‘Remember Fort Pillow’ became a rallying-cry for African-American soldiers throughout the Union Army.”
Nathan Bedford Forrest Day has actually been observed in Tennessee for nearly 50 years, though it wasn’t well known. The proclamation, which just makes it more official, is causing controversy among some democrat members of the state legislature.
The governor’s spokesperson issued an email to local news stations saying that Lee was required to issue proclamations each year and that the proclamation that was issued “complies with this obligation and is in keeping with prior years.”
It turns out, Lee is required by state law to honor the dead racist.
Tennessee law mandates that the governor must issue proclamations for six state holidays each year including days for Nathan Bedford Forrest and Robert E. Lee. It has been state law since 1971.