Skip to main content Accessibility

To make Press Center inquiries, email

SPLC: Holiday recognizing early Ku Klux Klan leader an insult to Tennessee residents

ATLANTA, Ga. - The following statement on Nathan Bedford Forrest Day in Tennessee is by Heidi Beirich, Director of the Intelligence Project

"Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has proclaimed Saturday as Nathan Bedford Forrest Day in his state, honoring a Confederate general who became the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, a terrorist organization that targets African Americans.
Pretending that this state holiday is about preserving Southern history – rather than openly endorsing the false notion of white supremacy – is an insult to Tennesseans.
Confederate symbols are being renamed, replaced and removed all over the country. In Charlottesville, where deadly violence erupted surrounding a protest of Confederate symbols, city leaders recently decided to scrap a holiday honoring Thomas Jefferson – a slaveholder – with a day recognizing the emancipation of enslaved Africans.
It is disappointing that Tennessee chooses to remain mired in the past by continuing to promote racial divisions.
The South is more than its Confederate past, and our political leaders need to begin working toward a shared future where all of American history is recognized and respected.
We cannot have an honest conversation about racial reconciliation in this country if we continue to protect Confederate symbols in public spaces, and if we continue to romanticize those who fueled the so-called 'Lost Cause.'"