It’s Not Enough to Move the Nathan Bedford Forrest Bust

Appearing on the Nashville Scene website under the “From the Archives” section today is the article, “It’s Not Enough to Move the Nathan Bedford Forrest Bust” by Steven Hale:

State Sen. Jeff Yarbro put the bust in context [] last month, following a protest at the Capitol.

The people that are here today aren’t trying to erase history, they’re trying to deal with it honestly. This statue wasn’t put here in the 1870s after the Civil War, it was put here in the 1970s after civil rights.

The Forrest bust is not only a disgrace because it honors a disgraceful man. Even the most charitable interpretation of the motives behind its placement in 1977 betrays a stunning indifference to the humanity of black Tennesseans. At worst it represents a show of white defiance following important steps toward equality for African Americans. Indeed, many Confederate monuments and other shows of Southern white nostalgia at the time were exactly that.

Hear, hear.

Of course, I’d make two changes, for clarification purposes, to the final sentenece: I’d change the “many” to “most” and delete the pharase “at the time,” as in, “Indeed, most Confederate monuments and other shows of Southern white nostalgia were exactly that.”

In fact, about eighty percent (~80%) of all Confederate statuary and other monuments weren’t erected within, say, a generation of the Civil War (when you would expect such monuments to be erected), but were in fact erected primarily during two periods in U.S. history: the early 1900s, when states (primarilly, but not only, Southern states) were enacting “Jim Crow” laws to disenfranchise black Americans, and the post-WWII through Civil Rights era, when black Americans were asserting their equal rights like never before. That inconvenient fact speaks volumes as to the motivations behind the vast majority of Confederate monuments…

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