Governor remains non-committal about removing Forrest bust from Tennessee Capitol Hill

Local News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Republican Governor Bill Lee remains non-committal about taking action to remove the state capitol bust of controversial Civil War General Nathan Bedford Forrest. 

This comes after the governor attended the homecoming at Tennessee State University Saturday with some African-American Democrat state lawmakers. 

One of those with him, Rep. Harold Love, said Monday what he told Governor Lee at the event.

“The capitol commission needs to meet before we go into session to resolve this. Otherwise, we will bring legislation to fix it,” said Rep. Love in a statement. 

When asked about Thursday, the governor said, “I don’t want to comment on private conversations with lawmakers.” 

The State Capitol Commission would be the first stop of any effort, like the unsuccessful one in 2017 by previous Governor Bill Haslam, to remove the state capitol bust of Forrest. 

The confederate general was a slave trader before the Civil War, revered tactician during the conflict, and an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan before leaving the group. 

The governor says the capitol commission will eventually take up the issue of whether or not the bust should be removed. 

“I am sure they will take that up,” added the governor. “I have not given them recommendations and have not decided what recommendations I will give.”

Facebook comments after previous stories about the Forrest bust show the great divide among Tennesseans about the issue. 

You cannot remove or ignore history is one general theme. Why honor a figure at the capitol who has a racist background is another. 

The governor says the capitol commission may not need a recommendation from him about the Confederate General’s bust. 

“Or have them determine on their own the direction they want to go,” he added as one possible scenario. 

The governor says that capitol commission would meet in a month or two.   

By state law, the Tennessee Historical Commission would also have to approve the removal of Forrest’s capitol hill bust. 

There have been unsuccessful bills in the past to move the bust to the state museum. 

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