Tennessee governor wants Nathan Bedford Forrest bust moved to museum

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said he wants a controversial bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate leader and an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan, removed from Tennessee’s state Capitol and relocated to the Tennessee State Museum.

Lee made the announcement during his Wednesday meeting, a day before meeting with the State Capitol Commission, The Tennessean reported. That 12-member body, along with the Tennessee Historical Commission, has the power to authorize the removal of the bust.

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“Forrest represents pain and suffering and brutal crimes committed against African Americans, and that pain is very real for our fellow Tennesseans,” Lee said. “The Nathan Bedford Forrest bust has spurred a heated debate that began long before all of this national ruckus on monuments that we’re seeing play out today.”

The historical commission has a meeting set for Friday and the Forrest bust is not on the agenda, The Tennessean reported.

“There are reasons this particular bust has for 40 years stood above others as controversial,” Lee said of the bust, which was installed at the Capitol in 1978. “It’s because this particular individual, in a particular season of his life, significantly contributed to one of the most regretful and painful chapters in our nation’s history.”