This story was updated at 7:33 p.m. on Friday, June 12, 2020, with more information.
NASHVILLE — Pop superstar Taylor Swift entered Tennessee's debate over Confederate figures honored at the state Capitol on Friday afternoon in a 10-tweet barrage lambasting the continued presence of a bust of Confederate general and slave trader Nathan Bedford Forrest.
She also criticized a statue of Edward Carmack, a late 19th century attorney and former U.S. senator who wrote editorials criticizing anti-lynching activist and journalist Ida B. Wells.
"As a Tennessean, it makes me sick that there are monuments standing in our state that celebrate racist historical figures who did evil things," the Nashville area resident tweeted. "Edward Carmack and Nathan Bedford Forrest were DESPICABLE figures in our state history and should be treated as such."
The tweets come amid renewed, heated debate in the General Assembly over the state's continued honoring of Forrest, an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan whose massive bronze bust occupies prime real estate outside the House and Senate chambers.
The long-standing bust removal effort gained momentum during national protests over racism and police brutality after the May 25 death of George Floyd, a 47-year-old black man, who died after a white Minneapolis police officer placed his knee on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes.
Swift wrote that she is "asking the [state] Capitol Commission and the Tennessee Historical Commission to please consider the implications of how hurtful it would be to continue fighting for these monuments," going on to add that "when you fight to honor racists, you show black Tennesseans and all of their allies where you stand, and you continue this cycle of hurt. You can't change history, but you can change this."
Earlier, she described Forrest as a "brutal slave trader and the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan who, during the Civil War, massacred dozens of black Union soldiers in Memphis."
Forrest, whose self-taught military tactics and strategy is still studied today, made his fortune as a slave trader. During the Civil War, troops under his command massacred black Union troops in Fort Pillow in rural West Tennessee. He was an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan, according to multiple historical accounts.
Carmack's statue was toppled last week by protesters during demonstrations regarding Floyd. As an editor at The Tennessean, Carmack was a fierce prohibitionist. He was killed in a gun fight with political rivals in 1908, and his statue was placed prominently before the steps leading up to the state Capitol.
An effort to eliminate Tennessee's officially recognized Nathan Bedford Forrest Day on July 13 failed, but Republicans did pass another bill that relieves Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, from the mandate that he sign an official proclamation to set the "day" in motion.
Contact Andy Sher at email@example.com or 615-255-0550. Follow on Twitter @AndySher1.