Black Lawmakers In Tennessee Legislature Angry Over Resolution Honoring Confederate General and Slave Trader Nathan Bedford Forrest

Confederate General Nathan Beford Forrest’s place in Tennessee history is a frequent topic of debate in the state legislature.
CHAS SISK / WPLN (FILE PHOTO)

Black lawmakers in the Tennessee legislature are seething over a resolution honoring Nathan Bedford Forrest.

The measure was slipped through the state House of Representatives two weeks ago. Now legislators are saying they’re trying to figure out a way to take it back.

The dispute has rekindled a debate over Forrest, a Confederate general and slave trader. One that Republicans and Democrats had thought they’d avoided this year.

The controversy erupted Thursday, the first time legislators met since many lawmakers learned about the resolution.

Memphis Democrat Raumesh Akbari described the maneuvering that got it through the House as “disingenuous” and a violation of trust.

“We all come from one shared history, but we all deserve the right to know exactly what we’re voting on and what we’re agreeing happened,” the chair of the Tennessee Legislative Black Caucus said.

Smyrna Republican Mike Sparks is responsible for the measure. Two weeks ago, he placed it on the House’s consent calendar — a digest of uncontroversial resolutions. On the day it passed, lawmakers also honored a cheerleading squad, a college football coach and a group of Chattanooga volunteers.

And the resolution didn’t list Forrest as its primary topic. Instead, it claimed to honor Shane Kastler, a Louisiana pastor and writer. One of his books is about Forrest.

Sparks initially told the Associated Press that he’d done nothing wrong, but on Thursday he made something of an apology.

“Many of y’all know I have a passion for history, like many of y’all do. So, to my colleagues in the black caucus, if anybody’s offended, I apologize to y’all.”

Some refused to accept it.

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SOURCE: Nashville Public Radio
Chas Sisk