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Tennessee bill to remove holiday celebrating Nathan Bedford Forrest fails in committee

Tennessee State Capitol (FOX 17 News Nashville)
Tennessee State Capitol (FOX 17 News Nashville)
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A controversial Tennessee Confederate General and former KKK leader is at the center of debate once again.

A bill that would’ve removed a day honoring Nathan Bedford Forrest has failed.

July 13 is a state holiday honoring the former Confederate General. Forrest is also remembered as a slave trader and early leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

The state historical commission recently voted to remove his bust the Tennessee State Capitol, but the holiday remains.

RELATED: 'Today is a good day': Historical commissioner pleased with removal of KKK leader bust

“I don’t want to have to celebrate someone who’s spent his life trying to figure out how to keep me and my ancestors enslaved,” said Representative London Lamar, who sponsored the bill to remove the holiday.

Rep. Lamar says it’s not about erasing history, It’s about moving forward as a state.

“The history of Nathan Bedford Forrest belongs in a museum where an accurate description of his life and legacy can be told from an unbiased perspective,” Lamar said.

The bill failed in a house committee this week.

ALSO READ: Why it took so long for the vote to remove KKK leader bust from Tennessee State Capitol

FOX 17 News asked Rep. Lamar what message this vote sends.

“What it sends to me is we have a long way to go to mend some of the systemic and symbolic racist injustices in this state.”

The bill was rejected in what’s called a voice-vote. Lawmakers aren’t required to go on record opposing it.

FOX 17 News reached out to all 14 members of the committee to find out how they voted. The three democrats on committee voted in support of removing the holiday, along with republican Tim Rudd of Murfreesboro.

Of the remaining ten republicans, just two answered our calls.

Representative Ron Travis’ office wouldn’t answer our questions, and Representative Rusty Grills’ office told me he voted against the bill, but didn’t say why.

No one spoke against the bill before the vote.

Representative Lamar says she wants holidays to celebrate people with more of a positive legacy on Tennessee’s history.

RELATED: Proposed amendment to Tennessee Constitution targets 'slavery and involuntary servitude'

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