From the Tennessean today:
Gov. Bill Lee has proclaimed Saturday as Nathan Bedford Forrest Day in Tennessee, a day of observation to honor the former Confederate general and early Ku Klux Klan leader whose bust is on display in the state Capitol.
Per state law, the Tennessee governor is tasked with issuing proclamations for six separate days of special observation, three of which, including the July 13 Forrest Day, pertain to the Confederacy.
There have been repeated protests of the bust of Forrest, the KKK’s first Grand Wizard, which is still featured prominently in the Tennessee state legislature to this day.
The Tennessean reports that Lee said “I signed the bill because the law requires that I do that and I haven’t looked at changing that law.”
They also remind us that Lee was found to have worn confederate uniforms in college, which he now says he regrets:
Lee earlier this year said he regretted participating in “Old South” parties at Auburn University nearly four decades ago as part of Kappa Alpha Order, a fraternity that lists Robert E. Lee as its “spiritual founder.”
The governor, a college student at the time, was also pictured in an Auburn yearbook dressed in a Confederate Army uniform, a common practice for members of the fraternity at the time.
“I never intentionally acted in an insensitive way, but with the benefit of hindsight, I can see that participating in that was insensitive and I’ve come to regret it,” Lee said in February.
Lee has said he may be open to “adding context” to the statue rather than removing it, but has done nothing to pursue that.
Rep. Bob Freeman has proposed replacing it with a women’s suffrage statue, and has vowed to introduce that legislation in the next session.
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