DYERSBURG, Tenn. — Less than a week after declaring July 13 as “Nathan Bedford Forrest Day,” Governor Bill Lee visited West Tennessee and made his thoughts on the subject clear.
Though it’s been five days since Lee proclaimed the day after the Confederate general and first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, he hasn’t said where he stood on the controversial issue — until now.
In days past, Lee has said he would look to change the law he said required him to name July 13 after Forrest, but he never said he agreed with the decision.
“I think the law should be changed,” Lee said. “I think that particular proclamation is not appropriate for the governor to decide.”
Despite Forrest’s controversial past, the West Tennessee native has a large group of supporters in the area who claim he has his rightful place in Southern and American history. Lee explained why he’s against honoring a man who previously had a statue near downtown Memphis.
“I think you just have to do what’s right,” Lee said. “I think you have to follow your heart. I think you have to do what’s best for all Tennesseans, and that’s what you do when you lead.”
The law that required Nathan Bedford Forrest Day hasn’t been specified to the public, but Lee insisted he acted on requirement, not personal belief.
“There was a law that required that I make a proclamation,” Lee said. “I didn’t want to do that. I did it because it was a governor’s obligation, so I did that.”
Governor Lee’s office said he will look to change the law during the legislative session next year.