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Confederate bust moved from Tennessee Capitol building

Tennessee’s State Building Commission voted 5-2 to remove the busts on Thursday, the final hurdle in a months-long process.
FILE - In this Aug. 17, 2017 file photo, a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest is displayed in the...
FILE - In this Aug. 17, 2017 file photo, a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest is displayed in the Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville, Tenn. Tennessee lawmakers on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020, remained torn on whether to support a proposal the removal of a contentious bust of a former Confederate general and early leader of the Ku Klux Klan. If approved by the GOP-controlled Legislature, the measure encourages the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest be removed from the Tennessee Capitol and instead be replaced with an “appropriate tribute to a deserving Tennessean.” (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)
Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 12:44 PM EDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The bust of a Confederate general and early Ku Klux Klan leader that had been displayed prominently inside of the Tennessee Capitol for decades was removed from its pedestal on Friday.

LIVE: Nathan Bedford Forrest Bust Removal

Tennessee’s State Building Commission voted 5-2 to move the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest out of the Capitol building. Gov. Bill Lee also cast a vote for its removal. https://bit.ly/3Bsqkdb

Posted by WVLT on Friday, July 23, 2021

The image of Nathan Bedford Forrest has sparked protests ever since its installation in 1978. Some suggested adding historical context, while others, including Republican Gov. Bill Lee, successfully argued for moving it to the Tennessee State Museum, just north of the Capitol.

Forrest was a Confederate cavalry general who amassed a fortune before the Civil War as a Memphis slave trader and plantation owner. Later, he was a leader of the Klan as it terrorized Black people, reversing Reconstruction efforts and restoring white power in the South.

The busts of Union Navy Adm. David Farragut and U.S. Navy Adm. Albert Gleaves also were moved to the museum on Friday, part of an agreement that military leaders shouldn’t be displayed in the Capitol.

Tennessee’s Black legislative caucus was particularly vocal about how painful it was to walk past the Forrest bust between the House and Senate chambers as they carried out their work each day.

“Removing the likeness of Nathan Bedford Forrest from a place of honor in Tennessee’s Capitol is a symbol for much needed reconciliation. No doubt we have work to do to achieve equality and justice for all people, but today’s vote shows that progress is possible,” said Sen. Raumesh Akbari, a Black lawmaker from Memphis who chairs the Senate’s Democratic caucus.

Tennessee’s State Building Commission voted 5-2 to remove the busts on Thursday, the final hurdle in a months-long process.

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