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Bust of KKK Leader to Lose Its Home at Tennessee Capitol

Statue of Confederate general, slave trader Nathan Bedford Forrest headed to museum
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 23, 2021 7:03 AM CDT
Bust of KKK Leader Will Exit Tennessee Capitol
A capitol employee walks past a bust of Confederate general and early Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest at the State Capitol Thursday, in Nashville, Tenn.   (George Walker IV/The Tennessean via AP)

(Newser) – A bust of Ku Klux Klan leader and Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest is coming down at the Tennessee Capitol. The State Building Commission gave a 5-2 approval Thursday to relocate the bust of the slave trader, installed in 1978, to the Tennessee State Museum, reports the Tennessean. Several attempts to move the statue failed before Gov. Bill Lee revisited the issue in July 2020. It "represents pain and suffering and brutal crimes committed against African Americans," Lee then told the State Capitol Commission, which had rejected a similar proposal from former Gov. Bill Haslam in 2017. The Commission approved relocation last summer, followed by the Tennessee Historical Commission in March. With Thursday's Building Commission vote, members of the legislative Black Caucus gathered around the statue to celebrate its coming removal.

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"I'm pleased that those people on the commission had enough courage to respect the voice of the Tennesseans," said Sen. Brenda Gilmore, a Democrat. "Certainly Nathan Bedford Forrest does not represent the values of Tennessee." But Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, the Republican Senate speaker, said the left was demanding "that we again kneel at the altar of political correctness." House Speaker Cameron Sexton, a Republican who supplied the other dissenting vote, said it was an "attempt to erase the past" when we should "learn from our past," per CNN. The statue, which has sparked multiple protests, will be given full historical context in a military exhibit at the Tennessee State Museum alongside busts of US Admirals David Farragut and Albert Gleaves, which will also be removed on Friday, per WKRN. The trio will be displayed at the museum by Tuesday. (Forrest's body was relocated, too.)

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