Dec 8, 2021 - News

Nathan Bedford Forrest statue removed

The statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest after it was splattered with pink paint in 2017.
The statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest after it was splattered with pink paint in 2017. Photo: Mark Humphrey/AP

A controversial statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest on private land overlooking Interstate 65 was removed Tuesday after standing for more than two decades.

  • Local leaders were fiercely critical of the statue, which showed the Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan leader with a wild grin riding a horse.
  • It has been vandalized several times over the years. In 2017, it was doused with bright pink paint.

What they're saying: "This has been a national embarrassment," state Sen. Heidi Campbell, D-Nashville, told the Tennessean. "I’m so excited. This is great news.

  • "It's just so hurtful to people, not to mention it's heinously ugly."

Why it matters: The removal comes amid an ongoing reckoning over racism and symbols of the Confederacy. Forrest has become emblematic of those debates in Tennessee.

  • His bust was removed from the State Capitol earlier this year, a move Gov. Bill Lee supported by saying Forrest "represents pain and suffering and brutal crimes committed against African Americans."

Driving the news: Bill Dorris owned the land and the statue. He defended its historic value until his death last year.

  • Dorris' will names the Battle of Nashville Trust as a beneficiary and the recipient of much of his property. The decision to remove the statue was made by the trust in consultation with the executor of Dorris' will, according to a statement from both parties.
  • It called the statue "ugly and a blight on Nashville," adding that it distracted from the trust's mission. No decision has been about what will happen to the statue in the future, according to the statement.
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