NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Nashville Mayor David Briley criticized Tennessee’s “Nathan Bedford Forrest Day”, calling the former Confederate general and early Ku Klux Klan leader, ” a slave owner and a racist.”

In a statement released Friday, Governor Bill Lee says he was bound by law to sign the proclamation for the day.

Tennessee Code 15-2-101 specifically says:

“Each year it is the duty of the governor of this state to proclaim the following as days of special observance: January 19, “Robert E. Lee Day”; February 12, “Abraham Lincoln Day”; March 15, “Andrew Jackson Day”; June 3, “Memorial Day” or “Confederate Decoration Day”; July 13, “Nathan Bedford Forrest Day”; and November 11, “Veterans’ Day.” The governor shall invite the people of this state to observe the days in schools, churches, and other suitable places with appropriate ceremonies expressive of the public sentiment befitting the anniversary of such dates.”

Nashville Rep. Harold Love was also outspoken about the day. He has hoped before and hopes again there could be changes to the old law.

“I think too many of us who know this has happened have often from time to time wondered at what point would a governor ask us to assist in helping change the law,” he told News 2 on Friday.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R) said Friday that Forrest should not have an official day honoring him and urged Tennessee to change the law.