A Tennessee lawmaker introduced a bill to replace the state’s entire historical commission less than two weeks after it voted to remove a bust of a former Ku Klux Klan leader from the capitol, KTVQ reports.
The Tennessee Historical Commission voted 25-1 to move a bust of Confederate general and early KKK leader Nathan Bedford Forrest from the state capitol to the Tennessee State Museum earlier this month in a move backed by Republican Gov. Bill Lee.
Forrest was the first grand wizard of the KKK and is known for leading an attack that killed 300 union soldiers, 200 of whom were Black.
"Forrest represents pain, suffering and brutal crimes committed against African Americans, and that pain is very real for our fellow Tennesseans as they walk the halls of our statehouse and evaluate how he could be one of just the nine busts elevated to a place of reverence," Lee said in a video.
GOP wants to replace commission:
Republican State Senator Joey Hensley did not specifically mention the bust of the KKK leader but introduced a bill that would remove all 29 members of the commission and replace them with a new 12-member panel.
While 24 members are currently chosen by the governor, the bill would allow the governor, the lieutenant governor, and the state speaker of the house to each select four members to the commission.
"In our culture today it seems there is a desire to cancel history, cancel culture, cancel narratives that are just based on fact. I think that that's a dangerous precedent," said state Senator Janice Bowling, who is backing the bill.
Some Republicans push back:
State Sen. Mike Bell said he would oppose the bill, arguing it wanted to change the rules after a decision lawmakers did not like.
"That's the process that we created for removing a monument," Bell said. "Every time we get a decision about a monument or a statue that we don't like, then we want to come back and change it again? If we want to put it in our hands, then let's just do a bill to do away with it completely and let the legislature vote on it."