(NASHVILLE) After years of controversy, the State Capitol Commission voted 9-2 to remove the bust from the Tennessee State Capitol and place the bronze casting in the State Museum. It must next be approved by the Tennessee Historical Commission.
Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, and Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, were the only votes against removal. Both of these legislators represent historical communities, with Jonesborough being the state's oldest town. It was incorporated in 1779, just three years after America's founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence.
Governor Bill Lee said, “I commend members of the State Capitol Commission for taking up the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust issue and arriving at a thoughtful resolution that provides important historical context for the bust at the State Museum. Scripture implores us to live in peaceful unity and I believe today’s actions reflect this and our commitment to remembering all parts of our past.”
On the day the bust was dedicated, there were protests at the capitol and have continued over the years.
Tennessee Senator Douglas Henry (D-Nashville) sponsored the resolution and the Sons of Confederate Veterans helped fund the making of the sculpture.
State Representative Mike Sparks (R-Smyrna) did share reports from historians about the large number of African-Americans who attended Forrest's funeral, but Sparks noted that he had no strong position on whether or not to relocate Forrest's bust to the State Museum.
However, the Smyrna representative was firm on encouraging the state to devise ways to tell the story of Sampson Keeble, Tennessee's first Black lawmaker.
For more on that topic, State Representative Sparks will be on WGNS' Rutherford Issues at 10:30AM next Thursday morning (July 16, 2020).
NewsRadio WGNS will keep you informed on this evolving story.