Lawmakers and local leaders have voiced their outrage after Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a proclamation on Wednesday declaring July 13 “Nathan Bedford Forrest Day.”
Forrest, who died in 1877, was a Confederate Army general, slave trader and an early member of the Ku Klux Klan. According to CNN, the proclamation reads, “Nathan Bedford Forrest is a recognized military figure in American history and a native Tennessean.”
It’s not a surprise the proclamation received backlash on social media, including tweets from Republican and Democratic lawmakers condemning the celebration of Bedford and the Tennessee law that requires governors to proclaim six dates as “days of special observance.”
“This is WRONG,” Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted. “Nathan Bedford Forrest was a Confederate general & a delegate to the 1868 Democratic Convention. He was also a slave trader & the 1st Grand Wizard of the KKK.”
“We should not be honoring Nathan Bedford Forrest, the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and the perpetrator of the massacre at Fort Pillow,” Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee posted on Twitter. “Gov. Lee should be bringing #Tennessee into the 21st century not backsliding into the 19th.”
In a time when the nation is in a battle to remove Confederate monuments and memorials, others expressed their reasons for being alarmed.
In Thursday’s The Tennessean newspaper, Gov. Lee claims Tennessee law requires him to proclaim July 13 as “Nathan Bedford Forrest Day” but he has no intention of changing it anytime soon, saying,”because the law requires that I do that and I haven’t looked at changing that law.”
Nathan Bedford Forrest nicknamed, “Old Bed” or “Wizard of the Saddle” was born July 13, 1821 in Chapel Hill, Tennessee.