NASHVILLE (WSMV) - After several years, the State Building Commission voted on Thursday morning to remove the controversial Nathan Bedford Forrest bust from the Tennessee State Capitol.

The commission voted 5-2 in favor of the removal of that bust as well as busts of U.S. Admiral David Farragut and U.S. Admiral Albert Gleaves from the capitol. In addition, Gov. Bill Lee voted in favor of the removal of the statue.

"That symbol [the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust] for us was a symbol just like the colored and white signs. It says you are not welcome here . That you are not equal here. And now that statue is coming down, just like the colored and white symbols came down, the work does not stop," Justin Jones said.

"It is an inter-generational movement and we’re hoping that we can continue that struggle for all the things they were fighting for. Those elders like John Lewis, Diane Nash, Kwame Lillard, Bernard LaFayette to say that this about removing symbols and policies of white supremacy so we can redeem the south," Justin Jones said.

As of Thursday morning, the bust remains at Tennessee State Capitol. However, crews are preparing to move three busts from the Tennessee State Capitol to the Tennessee State Museum as soon as Thursday. 

“After more than a year in the making, this process has finally come to a close,” Lee said in a statement on Thursday. “I thank the members of the Capitol Commission, Historical Commission and State Building Commission for providing thoughtful input and ensuring confidence in the process. The State Museum provides the full historical context for these figures as we remember our state’s rich and complex past.”  

According to a rep with the governor's office, they are working with the Speakers' office now to finalize details for the construction process and safety. The removal of the busts, which weigh up to 3,000 pounds each, will begin at 8 a.m. on Friday. 

Photos: Nathan Bedford Forrest bust removal

Crews relocate busts from state capitol to state museum

Crews relocate busts from state capitol to state museum

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Crews relocate busts from state capitol to state museum

Crews relocate busts from state capitol to state museum

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Crews relocate busts from state capitol to state museum

Crews relocate busts from state capitol to state museum

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Crews relocate busts from state capitol to state museum

Crews relocate busts from state capitol to state museum

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Crews relocate busts from state capitol to state museum

Crews relocate busts from state capitol to state museum

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Crews relocate busts from state capitol to state museum

Crews relocate busts from state capitol to state museum

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  • 0
Crews relocate busts from state capitol to state museum

Crews relocate busts from state capitol to state museum

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  • 0
Crews relocate busts from state capitol to state museum

Crews relocate busts from state capitol to state museum

  • Posted
  • 0
Crews relocate busts from state capitol to state museum

Crews relocate busts from state capitol to state museum

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  • 0

The three busts will be on display for public viewing at Tennessee State Museum during regular business hours.

“The Tennessee State Museum is ready to assist in the movement of the artifacts to the Museum,” Ashley Howell, Executive Director of the Tennessee State Museum, said in a statement on Thursday. “Museums preserve historical objects to provide connections to the past and offer public spaces for reflection. We are prepared to place these artifacts in that setting.”  

The cost of the removal of the bust will be around $17,000 and is covered by the State Museum.

The State Building Commission voted on Thursday morning to remove the Nathan Bedford Forrest Bust from the Tennessee State Capitol.

On Thursday, Justin Jones, who has been fighting and calling for removing the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust, gave his reaction after the vote.

“I think it’s crazy that statues, confederate statues have more due process than Tennesseans,” Jones said.

House Speaker Cameron Sexton, who, along with Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, voted against the bust's removal, released a statement after the vote.

The bust's removal has an even deeper meaning for African American lawmakers in Tennessee, including Sen. Brenda Gilmore.

"The state capitol should be a place we celebrate heroes. Certainly, he was a general, but his values in 2021 are not representative of Tennessee Values," Gilmore said.

The historical commission voted all the busts out of the building back in March. Per state law, no action could be taken until 120 days after the vote. The waiting period ended back on July 9.

Forrest was a confederate general, early Ku Klux Klan leader, and slave trader.

"You know he was the first Grand Wizard of the KKK. He killed hundreds of black Union soldiers who had actually surrendered, and he shouldn't be in a very prominent place in the state Capitol," Gilmore said.

Jones said the work is not over yet.

"I think that this statue is that a reminder that we still have work to do. And this vote today is not a cause to stop but to say keep going that if we organize together, we can change things in the state," Jones said.

 

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