Cruz calls on Tennessee to change law honoring early KKK leader: 'This is wrong'

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward Cruz228 Republican lawmakers urge Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade GOP, Democrats battle over masks in House, Senate Human rights can't be a sacrificial lamb for climate action MORE (R-Texas) called on Tennessee to change a law honoring Nathan Bedford Forrest, a former Confederate general and the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. 

“This is WRONG. Nathan Bedford Forrest was a Confederate general & a delegate to the 1868 Democratic Convention. He was also a slave trader & the 1st Grand Wizard of the KKK. Tennessee should not have an official day (tomorrow) honoring him. Change the law,” Cruz tweeted Friday. 

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) was hammered online Friday after signing a proclamation marking Saturday as Nathan Bedford Forrest Day in the Volunteer State. Under state law, Tennessee's governor must issue proclamations for six days of special observation, three of which are connected to the Confederacy.


Besides Forrest Day, Tennessee governors are also mandated to proclaim Jan. 19 as Robert E. Lee Day and June 3 as Confederate Decoration Day, also known as Confederate Memorial Day. 

“I signed the bill because the law requires that I do that and I haven’t looked at changing that law,” Lee said Thursday. He declined to say whether he believed the state law should be changed.

“I haven’t even looked at that law, other than knowing I needed to comply with it, so that’s what I did,” he added. “When we look at the law, then we’ll see.”

During his gubernatorial campaign and early on during his gubernatorial tenure, Lee voiced his opposition to removing a bust of Forrest from its location outside the statehouse's Senate and House chambers, saying he thought it was a “mistake to whitewash history.”

He later said he would be open to providing more context to the bust, though he has taken no further action.