NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – On Tuesday, Tennessee’s previous governor looked at a statewide tutor program he’s funded. However, Bill Haslam also championed a divisive cause that he confronted while in office three years ago–the removal of Confederate General Nathan Bedford’s bust from the State Capitol.
“I thought when in office, and believe still that the Forrest bust should not be in the capitol,” said the former governor during a public event at a Boys and Girls Club in Franklin. “I think it does elicit a lot of strong feelings understandably from people and I think it would be much more appropriate to move out of the state capitol to the state museum or some other place.”
Haslam’s event comes two days before the Tennessee Capitol Commission debates what should happen with the Forrest bust, which sits in an alcove on capitol’s second floor between the House and Senate chambers.
Then-Governor Haslam pushed to remove the bust in 2017 by taking the issue to the commission which would by law be the first step in removing capitol artifacts.
By a 7-5 vote, the commissioner declined removing the Forrest bust.
Current Governor Bill Lee is expected to address the commission Thursday on his wishes for the bust.
But Tuesday for Bill and Chrissy Haslam was only momentarily about Confederate symbols.
Earlier this year, the couple announced that the Bill and Chrissy Haslam Foundation would provide a $1,000 dollar stipend to at least one-thousand college age tutors as part of a summer learning program for K-6th grade students at Boys and Girls Clubs statewide.
The Haslams chose a Franklin branch of the clubs to see their million dollar donation in action.
They began by thanking the tutors helping the youngsters who have missed so much school because of COVID-19.
“I know they will be growing over the summer and I know they will be returning to school hopefully in the fall better prepared,” said the former first lady.
“You know the whole idea sort of came together at the last minute,” added former Governor Haslam. “We have all these college students whose plans have changed for the summer.”
There will be tests to see if the summer mentoring helps said the Haslams.
“We can actually measure how much students have learned and see what kid of impact its having,” said the former governor.
This is a developing story. Stay with News 2 and WKRN.com for updates.