You might remember a few years ago, when pulling down statues erected to Confederate war heroes was all the rage. Sadly, people have moved onto other ventures, leaving many monuments to the Confederacy still standing like they contributed positively to history and deserve to be remembered.
One Tennessee lawmaker, though, hasn’t forgotten – and he has the perfect replacement for an homage to Nathan Bedford Forrest (you probably only know his name because of Forrest Gump, be honest) in mind.
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Forrest’s bust is currently one of eight bronzed figures on display at the Tennessee State Capitol, even though Forrest was a Confederate general and a founding member of the KKK. He had made a fortune trading human beings as slaves before the war, and is best remembered for leading 1864’s Fort Pillow Massacre.
This “hero” allowed (or directed) his troops to murder hundreds of black soldiers trying to surrender.
Forrest fans (?) argue that Forrest’s later decision to support racial harmony means he should be allowed to remain on the good side of history, but Republican representative Jeremy Faison (and other people who can read history books without rose-colored glasses) thinks it’s time someone else be honored.
Someone like Dolly Parton, a native Tennessean who is as noted for her charity work as her country music career.
“My daughter is 16, and I would love for her to come into the Capitol and see a lady up there,” Faison told the Tennessean. “What’s wrong with Anne Dallas Dudley getting in that alcove?”
Dudley, a suffragist born in Nashville, helped the state ratify the 19th Amendment (very last, but still).
Faison himself used to be an advocate of keeping history the way it was – and Forrest in the capitol – but after he delved into Forrest’s ideology, the politician got on board with the idea that history could be studied in schools.
No veneration of Confederate generals and racist slave holders necessary.
There are about 50,000 signatures on a petition calling for the bust to be removed to a museum, but before governor Bill Lee can remove it, both the State Capitol Commission and the Tennessee Historical Commission would have to vote on a yet-to-be-introduced resolution.
I guess Dolly and Anne – and the rest of us – are going to have to wait just a little bit longer for a woman to join the ranks of history-on-display.
We’ll get there. For now, I suppose we can be somewhat mollified by the knowledge that such a thing is on people’s hearts and minds, if not on the books.