NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — On Wednesday, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced that the State Capitol Commission will convene on Thursday, July 9.
Sources tell News 2’s Chris Bundgaard that the Capitol’s bust of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest will be on the agenda. Governor Lee confirmed this in his weekly briefing on Wednesday afternoon.
At this time, it appears it will only be a discussion and no course of action on the bust has been made.
In June, 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.
Lee had said he “would sit down with those who advocate keeping it” as well as “those who advocate getting rid of it.” Protesters have been camped out in Legislative Plaza for weeks awaiting Lee to address them on their concerns regarding racial inequality, one of their concerns also being the removal of the bust.