July 13, 2019
Ted Cruz criticizes Tenn. governor for day honoring Confederate general and KKK leaderBreaking News
tags: Ted Cruz, Nathan Bedford Forest, Confederate Holidays
The Tennessee governor’s proclamation to mark Saturday as Nathan Bedford Forrest Day remembers a “recognized military figure in American history” and a “native Tennessean.”
Critics point to other identities they say the state should not celebrate year after year: Slave trader. Confederate general. First Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
As communities around the South debate whether to scrap memorials to Confederate figures, Tennessee’s annual day of recognition — mandated for decades by a state law — is drawing renewed, bipartisan backlash.
“This is WRONG,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) tweeted Friday, noting Forrest’s Confederate and KKK leadership roles. “Tennessee should not have an official day (tomorrow) honoring him. Change the law.”
Forrest Day has been a holiday in Tennessee since 1921, state legislative librarian Eddie Weeks told the Tennessean. Since 1969, Forrest has been honored with a day of observation. The state code enshrining Forrest Day says the governor must also proclaim commemorations including Robert E. Lee Day on Jan. 19 and Confederate Decoration Day on June 3.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) would not say Thursday whether he wants to change the law, according to the Tennessean. His office did not respond to a request from The Washington Post for comment.
“I signed the bill because the law requires that I do that, and I haven’t looked at changing that law,” Lee said Thursday.
Lee has said he doesn’t support removing a similarly controversial bust of Forrest from the state Capitol. He says he does not want to “whitewash history,” echoing common arguments from conservatives who frame Confederate statues and monuments as important parts of the historical record. Others say the memorials glorify people with racist histories, inviting veneration rather than critical examination.