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New Poll Says Tennesseans Support Removing Confederate Statue in Capitol

Tennessee State Museum


A majority of Tennesseans say that a bust of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest should be removed from the state capitol building, according to a recent poll from Vanderbilt University. 

About 75 percent of the 1,000 registered voters surveyed said the controversial figure should be removed from the capitol’s rotunda. A majority of both Republicans and Democrats agreed on the issue. Just 35 percent of Republicans were in favor of keeping the statue, which was installed in the 1970s.

Prior to the Civil War, Forrest was a slave trader in Memphis. In recent years, the city removed its own statue of him and changed the spelling of a Midtown street bearing his name.  

State Senator Katrina Robinson (D-Memphis) says that while the bust’s removal from the capitol building may have public support, lawmakers may not yet be swayed to act. 

“That all depends on whether some of our representatives and senators are willing to answer to the people or to their party,” she says.  

Some Republicans have recently sidedwith Democrats on the issue. As one of only three African Americans in the state senate, Robinson says the bust is both a personal and professional distraction.

“Every time I get off the elevator, that’s the first thing I see before I go into the chamber,” she says.  

Most Republicans polled say Forrest’s bust should be relocated to a museum. Democrats are evenly divided on whether it belongs in a museum or removed from all public display.