MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Governor Bill Lee appears to be having a change of heart over honoring Confederate General and infamous slave trader Nathan Bedford Forrest.
The governor attracted national attention a week ago when he signed a proclamation designating July 13th as Nathan Bedford Forrest Day in Tennessee. Lee said quite correctly at the time that he was obligated to the sign the proclamation because of a 50-year-old state law. But the governor added that he had not considered taking steps to repeal the law.
Now, that has changed. Lee now says he will not only work to end Nathan Bedford Forrest Day, he will actually take the lead in an effort to change the law. And that’s not all. The governor is also open to having a broader conversation about what to do with the Forrest bust at the state capital. Presumably that means Lee is willing to consider moving the bust to another location.
Remember, it was just over six months ago that Lee rejected any notion of removing the bust. He said then it would be whitewashing history.
So, what’s causing this change of heart? I don’t know for sure, but I’d like to think that Lee does not want to govern from the far-right fringes. That he does have empathy for all Tennesseans – including those of us who are highly offended – by giving Forrest such a prominent place of honor by state government.