In Tennessee's state capitol in Nashville, seven alcoves display busts of white men who ostensibly represent the state's history. One of those busts is of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was a slave trader and one of the first members of the Ku Klux Klan. Now even Republican politicians are starting to understand how wrong this is.
State Rep. Jeremy Faison is now calling for the bust of Forrest to be removed and pressuring officials to replace it with a history-making woman. Speaking to The Tennessean, Faison specifically recommended state suffragette Anne Dallas Dudley or current country superstar and gay icon Dolly Parton. Parton has not commented publicly on the proposal.
"My daughter is 16, and I would love for her to come into the capitol and see a lady up there," Faison told the newspaper.
The politician also sees an opportunity to honor a person of color in the capitol since he notes Black slave labor helped build the edifice.
Faison's effort will face many hurdles. While former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam supported relocating Forrest to a museum, the Capitol Commission — which oversee sthe building — voted against such an action. Current Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, wants to keep Forrest where he is but will consider adding historical context to the bust. While Lee signed a law in July commemorating Nathan Bedford Forrest Day, he also said he would also like the Tennessee governor freed from a law that mandates they declare some sort of observance for the racist general, who during the Civil War oversaw the killing of hundreds of Black Union soldiers at what became known as the Fort Pillow massacre.
Faison says a person like Forrest should not be held up as a hero in Tennessee's most revered state building.
"Hitler has earned his place in history, but they don't put monuments of him in Germany anymore," he said.