Cohen Urges Lee to Remove Nathan Bedford Forrest Bust, Rename State Park


Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN-09) urged Gov. Bill Lee to remove a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest from the State Capitol and rename a state park that bears his name.

In a letter sent to Lee Monday, Cohen asked the Republican governor to “demonstrate leadership on an issue that causes so much pain in the Black community in Tennessee.”

Lee announced last week that he has called a meeting of the State Capitol Commission, the body responsible for historical displays in the Capitol, which will convene July 9.

“It’s my expectation that they will vote on whether to move the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust. I’ll make a specific proposal for what they’ll vote on next week, but I want to acknowledge the importance of the process that we have here in Tennessee,” Lee said during a July 1 press conference.

“The commission process that is set up by the Legislature protects the integrity of historical displays so that any changes are rooted in thoughtful, civic discourse. This process is the opposite of the mob rule that, unfortunately, has been dominating the national headlines around historical displays,” he added.

In his letter, Cohen told Lee that he “hopes this means you have taken the lead on the removal of the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest.”

“As you may recall, I wrote to you on January 4, 2019 and February 22, 2019 urging you to remove the bust,” said Cohen. “I hope that you will also take the lead in renaming the Nathan Bedford Forest State Park in Eva, TN which is equally as distasteful and inappropriate.”

At Gov. Lee’s request, the Tennessee Senate passed a bill (already approved by the House) last month that will exempt Lee 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 first 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.

“I hope you will seize this moment and make the country look at Tennessee as a progressive and forward moving state,” Cohen concluded his letter.

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].







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7 Thoughts to “Cohen Urges Lee to Remove Nathan Bedford Forrest Bust, Rename State Park”


    dear governor. please take this moment to tell mr cohen to go lick his fingers.

    move the statue to a place of prominence in the museum. as respects the feelings in our community ,there are some of us who feel the cancel culture should be cancelled.

  2. John Smith

    Quit trying to hide history. This is all far too Orwellian for my taste. Give it a rest.

  3. 83ragtop50

    “ ‘ I hope you will seize this moment and make the country look at Tennessee as a progressive and forward moving state,’ Cohen concluded his letter.”

    It would be an extreme move forward to drum this loon out of office.

  4. Horatio Bunce

    Will Cohen request removal of the statue of plagiarist fraud and Playboy author Alex Haley in Knoxville’s Haley Heritage Square? Isn’t it wrong to “teach” young black kids to look up to a total fraud who obtained his Pulitzer prize on complete fiction stolen from a white man?

    Or is stealing from white men the “heritage” Knoxville wishes them to pursue?

  5. David S. Blackwell RN, BSN

    Let’s just ban Fried Chicken! Heart disease kills more than Covid 19 could ever dream of.

  6. Pauline Killion

    Steve Cohen (chicken eating clown) is an embarrassment to our city, county and state of Tennessee. He has done 0, absolutely nothing for Memphis, Shelby County or the state of Tennessee, except to embarrassment. He must be voted out and replaced with someone who really cares for our area and the unemployed of our state.

    1. As I continually point out, Steve Cohen is more of an embarrassment to TN than the meth epidemic.