Governor Lee calls on Capitol Commission to consider moving Forrest bust to state museum

Tennessee News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — On Wednesday, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee called on the State Capitol Commission to consider moving the controversial bust of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest from the State Capitol Building to the Tennessee State Museum.

Governor Lee said in his Wednesday state briefing that the bust has been a source of controversy on both sides since he took office in 2019, long before the current community unrest. He stated that he believes that the Forrest bust needs to be moved to the Tennessee State Museum where it can be placed in an exhibit and be provided further context as to how it applies to our state’s history.

The State Capitol Commission will convene on Thursday with the single issue of the Forrest bust on the agenda. Last month, Governor Lee stated there needed to be “strong dialogue” on what happens with the bust but stopped short of calling for it to be removed.

Nathan Bedford Forrest gained fame as a Confederate general renowned for his tactics, but shame as a slave trader before the Civil War.

Forrest’s role in the massacre of Union black soldiers at Ft. Pillow has many accounts as do accounts of being an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan before most say he disavowed the group.

The Forrest bust was placed in the Tennessee Capitol in the late 1970s due to the efforts of the late Nashville Democratic Sen. Douglas Henry who was a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

There have been a few protests right below the bust for years and an effort led by former Republican Governor Bill Haslam to remove the bust, but in it failed 7-5 in 2017 before the Capitol Commission—the first step by law for removing Capitol Hill artifacts line the Forrest bust.

This is a developing story. Stay with News 2 and for updates.

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of community unrest across Middle Tennessee:

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