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Bill calling for removal of bust of Confederate general, KKK leader from Tennessee capitol fails

Posted at 9:50 AM, Jun 10, 2020

A resolution to remove a bust of Confederate general and KKK leader Nathan Bedford Forrest from the Tennessee Capitol failed in a state House of Representatives committee on Tuesday.

The measure failed in a vote of 5-11 in the Naming, Designating, & Private Acts Committee. The vote was mostly along party lines, with all four Democrats voting for the measure and 11 Republicans voting against it. Rep. Glen Casada was the only Republican to break ranks with his party and vote for the removal of the bust.

Forrest served as a general in the Confederate army between 1861 and 1865. After the war, he joined the Klu Klux Klan — which has its roots in Tennessee — and was eventually elected as the hate group's first "Grand Wizard."

The bust of Forrest, which is displayed prominently in the state capitol in Nashville, has been the center of controversy for years. Calls for its removal and the removal of other Confederate monuments have been reignited after the death of George Floyd, whose death at the hands of Minneapolis police have prompted protests and demands for an end to systemic racism.

Earlier in the day, legislation that would end the annual designation of July 13 as "Nathan Bedford Forrest Day" advanced in the Tennessee House. A conflicting version of the bill is also making its way through the Tennessee Senate.

Republican members echoed previous stances that they did not want to "erase history" while their fellow black colleagues stressed that the state's continued honoring of Forrest remains deeply painful.

This story was originally published by Rebekah Pewitt on WTVF in Nashville.