MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Next week Tennessee will honor Nathan Bedford Forrest.
In early June Governor Bill Haslam signed a proclamation honoring Forrest on Monday, July 13.
Forrest has had a day of observance in Tennessee for decades.
The Governor’s office said in order for that to change it would take legislation, so some lawmakers called on the governor to make it happen.
“To say the Governor must sign a proclamation under Nathan Bedford Forrest Park every year is for me as a lawyer, a stretch and for me as a citizen it’s really disappointing,” said state senator Lee Harris.
Harris, a former Memphis City Council member called for Haslam to take action.
After the mass murder in Charleston, South Carolina Haslam called for the bust of Forrest to be removed from the capital.
When WREG asked the Governor’s office about the proclamation, they said the Governor signed it as per statute and it would take legislation for that to change but Harris believed there were ways around that.
“The Tennessee constitution gives the governed executive authority which means he has discretion about which he signs or doesn’t sign,” said Harris.
The Governors office never responded to WREG’s questions on whether Haslam had any plans to try and overturn the statute.
But Harris, who was active in the process of changing several Confederate Park names in Memphis a few years ago said its time for change.
“If he really thinks it takes legislative action, he knows the process. He can file legislation tomorrow.,” he said.
However supporters of Forrest said he was a great leader and that he represented history and wasn’t an evil person.
Debbie Reynolds, who was visiting his statute in the Health Sciences Park on Friday said she can see why there’s a day to honor him.
“Well he’s a heroic figure and just a great general. He started as a private and worked his way to a brigadier. He’s the only officer in either side north or south to achieve that,” she said.
Other days that the Governor signs a proclamation for include Robert E. Lee Day and Harriet Tubman Day.