NASHVILLE -- House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, today asked State Capitol Commission members to recommend removal of a bust of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest from the state Capitol and find another setting for it.
Forrest's "military prowess and exploits in the Civil War have been well-documented," McCormick's letter says. "However, his background as a slave trader and a founding member of the Ku Klux Klan overshadows his contribution to our state's history in the minds of many."
"Certainly," McCormick said, "we should attempt to find the proper balance between honoring his military accomplishments versus his less positive attributes."
He is recommending the state replace Forrest with a bust of the legendary frontiersman and congressman Davy Crockett. A statue of Crockett is already in the works, McCormick noted, and could fill the spot where Forrest's bust now is located.
Earlier today, Republican Gov. Bill Haslam told reporters in Nashville that he favored removing Forrest's prominent spot in a second-floor niche of the state Capitol outside the House and Senate chambers.
This morning in Chattanooga, the governor said he also favored removing Confederate flag emblems from state-issued license plates for Sons of Confederate Veterans.
But, the governor said, he alone cannot make the decisions.
McCormick said in his letter that he spoke with several members of the Tennessee Legislative Black Caucus, including Rep. G.A. Hardaway, D-Memphis. Some states are revisiting policies in light of the slaying of 9 people last week at an historically black church in Charleston, S.C.
An avowed 21-year-old white supremacist, who featured himself in photos draped in a Confederate flag, has been charged in the shooting deaths.