NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – On Monday, Gov. Bill Lee said he hopes to work with the legislature to change the law about Nathan Bedford Forrest Day in the next session.
Gov. Lee said he wanted to clear the air about signing a proclamation honoring the controversial Confederate general with “Nathan Bedford Forrest Day” on July 13 each year.
“I want to share my heart about this,” the governor said. “I didn’t like it, and I want to explain why I didn’t like it and why I didn’t want to sign it. There are parts of our history that are painful particularly to African Americans.”
Lee has become what may be the first Tennessee governor to say the law requiring a Nathan Bedford Forrest Day be changed.
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While revered for his Civil War tactics, Forrest was a slave owner before the Civil War and later an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan.
“Nathan Bedford Forrest and his parts of life is part of painful history and why I, we need to look at changing law and I will work with legislators to do that,” Lee said.
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During the interview, Lee also addressed calls to remove the bust of Forrest from the second floor of the state capitol.
“We need to have a broader conversation about that as well,” he said.
Previous governor, Bill Haslam, tried to remove the bust, but the effort failed by one vote in its first step.