NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The bust of Ku Klux Klan leader and Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest was removed from the Tennessee Capitol Friday morning.
The busts of Forrest, Admiral David Glasgow Farragut and Admiral Albert Gleaves will be relocated from the Second Floor of the Capitol to the Tennessee State Museum.
On Thursday, the State Building Commission voted 5-2 to agree with the Historical Commission’s decision earlier this year to remove the busts.
Governor Bill Lee expressed support for moving the bust, which was installed at the Capitol in 1978 and has since sparked multiple protests and demonstrations.
“After more than a year in the making, this process has finally come to a close,” said Gov. Lee. “I thank the members of the Capitol Commission, Historical Commission and State Building Commission for providing thoughtful input and ensuring confidence in the process. The State Museum provides the full historical context for these figures as we remember our state’s rich and complex past.”
“It’s most important to me that we followed the process…I think that we’ll have the result that’s best for Tennessee,” the governor added.
The two votes to not remove the busts were from House Speaker Cameron Sexton and Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally.
Lt. Gov. McNally tweeted his reasoning to oppose the removal, explaining “No figure honored on the capitol grounds or across the state could stand up to modern scrutiny.”
Speaker Sexton explained in his statement, “trying to judge past generations’ actions based on today’s values and the evolution of societies is not an exercise I am willing to do because I think it is counterproductive.”
The three busts are estimated to weigh up to 3,000 pounds each. The removal of the busts required heavy duty equipment, including a specialized hydraulic lift, and a temporary construction zone was put in place in the Capitol.
Removal costs are estimated to be around $17,000 and will be covered by the State Museum.
The three busts will then be on display for public viewing beginning Tuesday at the museum during regular business hours.
Forrest was a Confederate cavalry general who amassed a fortune as a plantation owner and slave trader in Memphis before the Civil War. His involvement with the Klan came after the war.