The Tennessee Historical Commission on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to support removing the bust of Ku Klux Klan leader and Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest from the state Capitol.
According to local media, the panel voted 25-1 to grant the waiver sought by the state Capitol Commission to have the bust transferred to the Tennessee State Museum.
The vote comes months after Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee called on the Capitol Commission to consider the placement of the bust as leaders in cities and states across the country moved to get rid of Confederate symbols in public spaces amid widespread protests against racial injustice and police brutality following the police killing of George Floyd.
While Lee said in remarks at the time that Forrest, who was born in Tennessee, was a “renowned military tactician” and was part of the state’s history, he also acknowledged the former commander’s “disturbing track record.”
According to historians, Forrest accumulated wealth in part by selling slaves before becoming a Confederate cavalry commander. After the Civil War, he became the Ku Klux Klan’s first grand wizard.
Lee said last year that Forrest represents “pain, suffering and brutal crimes committed against African Americans and that pain is very real for many of our fellow Tennesseans as they walk the halls of our statehouse and evaluate how he could be one of the just 9 busts elevated to a place of honor and reverence.”
During an hours-long meeting ahead of Tuesday's vote, the majority of those who offered testimony to the commission voiced support for the bust’s removal from the statehouse, according to The Tennessean.
The commission's vote will reportedly allow Lee to have the monument removed from the state Capitol, though the newspaper reports the process could be delayed pending a request from Republican leaders asking for Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery (R) whether approval is needed from another entity in order to relocate the bust.