Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is speaking out against Tennessee’s decision to honor Nathan Bedford Forrest ― a Confederate general, slave trader and the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan ― calling it downright “wrong.”
Earlier this week, Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed a proclamation deeming Saturday “Nathan Bedford Forrest Day” and praising him as “a recognized military figure in American history and a native Tennessean.”
On Friday, Cruz pointed out Forrest’s background in a tweet demanding that the state change its law that requires the governor to declare several specific days of recognition each year. In addition to Forrest, the state also has days honoring Robert E. Lee, who led the Confederate army, and Andrew Jackson, who owned slaves.
This is WRONG. Nathan Bedford Forrest was a Confederate general & a delegate to the 1868 Democratic Convention. He was also a slave trader & the 1st Grand Wizard of the KKK. Tennessee should not have an official day (tomorrow) honoring him. Change the law. https://t.co/XBgoRCBoI0
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) July 12, 2019
Echoing Cruz’s criticism, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) called on the governor to bring the state “into the 21st century” rather than “backsliding into the 19th.”
We should not be honoring Nathan Bedford Forrest, the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and the perpetrator of the massacre at Fort Pillow. Gov. Lee should be bringing #Tennessee into the 21st century not backsliding into the 19th.https://t.co/w5RC7sHShx
— Steve Cohen (@RepCohen) July 12, 2019
Despite the criticism, Lee told the Tennessean he hasn’t seriously considered changing the law.
“I haven’t even looked at that law, other than knowing I needed to comply with it, so that’s what I did,” he said. “When we look at the law, then we’ll see.”