• Gov. Bill Lee says legislature needs to address law concerning ‘Nathan Bedford Forrest Day'

    By: Winnie Wright

    Updated:

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Nathan Bedford Forrest is arguably the most controversial figure in Tennessee politics at this moment.

    The Confederate General-turned-KKK founder has divided much of the state, after Gov. Bill Lee signed a proclamation naming July 13 “Nathan Bedford Forrest Day.”

    RELATED: State representatives react to Nathan Bedford Forrest getting state holiday in Tennessee

    FOX13 got some facetime with the governor Wednesday and asked him where he stands on the issue right now.

    Many have criticized Lee for trying to have it both ways when it comes to “Nathan Bedford Forrest Day.”

    Lee signed the proclamation last week. Under state law, Tennessee’s governor is tasked with signing proclamations for six different state holidays, which also includes Robert E. Lee Day.

    After the fact, when pressed as to why he signed the proclamation, Lee alluded to the fact that he was forced to under state law.


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    Then the backlash came. Even Texas Sen. Ted Cruz called signing the proclamation “wrong.”

    Lee changed course earlier this week, telling reporters he’d be willing to revisit the law.

    We asked him where he stands today.

    “There was a law that required that I make that proclamation. I didn’t want to do that, but it’s the governor’s obligation, so I did that. But also said that our history is rich and deep and complicated, controversial, and sometimes painful. This particular person and this particular time in his life is particularly painful to a number of Tennesseans. For that reason, I’ve said we ought not to have that proclamation,” he answered.

    FOX13 asked Lee point-blank, “should the law be changed?”

    “I think the law should be changed. I think that particular proclamation is one that is not appropriate for where we are in our state,” he answered.

    We then asked Lee if now is the time to also address Robert E. Lee day. His answer: he’s focused on the issue at-hand right now.

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