NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam wishes the process to remove the controversial Nathan Bedford Forrest bust from the state capitol would move faster.
He may soon get his wish. Late this afternoon the Capitol Commission set a meeting on September 1, to consider removing the controversial Confederate bust.
The governor expressed his frustration late Thursday afternoon after announcing that 800 jobs were coming to Middle Tennessee with the Philips Corporation.
“This unfortunately won’t be as quick as some would like it, including me,” said the governor “But that is the process. I am encouraging the Capitol Commission and [Tennessee] Historical Commission to meet as quickly, as prudently possible.”
Those two groups must each approve calls or changes to any artifact at the state capitol, but the process begins with the Capitol Commission.
“They have to decide what their administrative process and rules will be,” added the governor about the Capitol Commission.
For decades, there have been calls to remove the bust of the Confederate Civil War hero and early KKK leader, but the calls grew louder in the aftermath of the Charlottesville tragedy with a protest August 14 at the capitol.
Removing Forrest’s bust is a delicate politically.
Tennessee’s U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker have joined Governor Haslam recently in saying Forrest should not be honored at the state capitol, but Republican candidate for governor, Mae Beavers, has joined President Trump in asking how far does such a call go?
“What are we going to do next? Remove the Washington monument or Thomas Jefferson monument because they owned slaves?” she told News 2 earlier this week.
Whatever happens will test the process which was passed by state lawmakers in 2013.
The law, which is officially called The Tennessee Heritage Protection Act, also applies to monuments on public property.
Any change outside the state capitol property would only have to be approved by the Tennessee Historical Commission