Taylor Swift called on Tennessee leaders Friday to remove monuments “that celebrate racist historical figures who did evil things.”
“Edward Carmack and Nathan Bedford Forrest were despicable figures in our state history and should be treated as such,” Swift said in a statement posted on Twitter Friday.
Edward Carmack’s statue was sitting in the state Capitol until it was torn down last week in the protests. The state of Tennessee has vowed to replace it.
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) June 12, 2020
A statue of Carmack outside the Tennessee Capitol was torn down by protesters after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“He was a white supremacist newspaper editor who published pro-lynching editorials and incited the arson of the office of Ida B. Wells,” Swift said of Carmack.
At Gov. Bill Lee’s request, the Tennessee Senate passed a bill (already approved by the House) last week that will exempt him from having to declare July 13 Nathan Bedford Forrest Day, which has been a requirement of every governor since 1969. A bust of Forrest, a Confederate general and the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, was placed in the State Capitol in 1978.
The State Capitol Commission considered the removal of the bust in February, but ultimately took no action, The Tennessee Star reported.
“Taking down statues isn’t going to fix centuries of systemic oppression, violence and hatred that black people have had to endure but it might bring us one small step closer to making all Tennesseans and visitors to our state feel safe – not just the white ones,” Swift said. “I’m asking the Capitol Commission and the Tennessee Historical Commission to please consider the implications of how hurtful it would be to continue fighting for these monuments.”
A proposal to remove the bust of Forrest was rejected in an 11-5 vote Tuesday in the Naming, Designating, and Private Acts Committee, though Gov. Lee said “something should be done” about the statue.
Actress Reese Witherspoon joined Swift in calling on state leaders to remove the bust of Forrest.
“Is this even a conversation? Gov. Bill Lee? A statue that honors a KKK founder? We need to get rid of this disgusting symbol of racism,” she said on Twitter. “And every other mark of white supremacy in the state. The great state of Tennessee deserves better.”
Is this even a conversation? @GovBillLee ? A statue that honors a KKK founder ? We need to get rid of this disgusting symbol of racism. And every other marker of White supremacy in the state. The Great state of TN deserves better https://t.co/TSkthai2sW
— Reese Witherspoon (@ReeseW) June 11, 2020
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