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

    By: Siobhan Riley

    Updated:

    Tennessee State Representative GA Hardaway said Govorner Bill Lee should have taken a stand against the Nathan Bedford Forrest Day proclamation.

    Hardaway told us over the phone from D.C., members of the Tennessee Black Caucus are working with their legal team right now to review all state laws.

    RELATED: Supporters gather in Memphis to celebrate Nathan Bedford Forrest Day

    He said the current proclamation signed by the governor is offensive and represents the Old South.

    Tennessee Governor Bill Lee is facing backlash after signing a proclamation declaring July 13 as Nathan Bedford Forrest Day.

    The Nathan Bedford Forrest statue was removed from a Downtown Memphis Park in 2017 after community leaders protested saying the monument represented oppression and racism.

    Forrest was a slave trader and Ku Klux Klan leader.

    Tennessee State Representative GD Hardaway, who also chairs the Tennessee Black Caucus said Governor Lee needs to have more sensitivity towards this issue.


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    “Though it was in statue and the governor was instructed to sign that proclamation, he did not have to do it, that same statue does not create penalties for that,” Hardaway said.

    State law requires governors to proclaim six dates as days of special observance – including July 13 as Nathan Bedford Forrest day.

    Governor Lee told the Tennessean on Thursday he signed the bull because the law required that he do so.

    He also said he hasn’t looked at changing the law.

    “We need those who share our belief that discrimination is wrong, that bigotry is wrong,” Hardaway said.

    Hardaway explained the black Caucus will bring forward legislation for the Republican Caucus, Democratic

    Caucus and the governor to review by the end of this week.

    “We’re not only bringing attention to the problem, we’re also bringing a solution that we’ll be offer to scrub the books of that racist discriminatory bigoted language that creates a holiday of the worst kind of human being,” Hardaway said.

    FOX13 called the governor’s office to see if he had a comment. 

    Here’s Governor Lee’s statement – 

    This afternoon, I sat down for an interview to clear the air on something that everyone’s been talking about – the Nathan Bedford Forrest Proclamation.

    While it is my job as governor to enforce the law, I want Tennesseans to know where my heart is on this issue. Our state’s history is rich, complex and in some cases painful. With this in mind, I will be working to change this law.

    It is also a requirement to proclaim January 19 as Robert E Lee Day, honoring the commander of the Confederate army.

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