Gov. Lee signs order proclaiming July 13 ‘Nathan Bedford Forrest Day’

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In this Aug. 18, 2017, file photo, a statue of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest sits in a park in Memphis. (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz, File)

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee is facing backlash for signing a proclamation ordering a day to honor Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

Lee told reporters this week that a 1969 state law required him to sign the proclamation but declined to say whether he believed the law should be repealed.

The proclamation designates July 13 as “Nathan Bedford Forrest Day.”

Forrest was a Confederate cavalry general who had amassed a fortune as a plantation owner and slave trader in Memphis before the Civil War.

By Friday, Lee was receiving pushback from both Republicans and Democrats for signing the proclamation.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted signing it was wrong and urged Lee to change the law.

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