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Tenn. Gov. Signs Proclamation Honoring Early KKK Leader

The tradition has drawn bipartisan backlash.
Posted at 4:13 PM, Jul 14, 2019

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a proclamation last week making July 13 a state holiday honoring Nathan Bedford Forrest. Forrest was a confederate general, slave trader and the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

Tennessee law has required the governor to sign a proclamation declaring the holiday every year since 1921, according to local media. The proclamation says, "Nathan Bedford Forrest is a recognized military figure in American history and a native Tennessean."

The tradition has drawn national bipartisan backlash. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz called the tradition "wrong" on Friday, and said Tennessee legislators need to change the law. Nashville's Democratic Mayor also called for the law to be repealed. Gov. Lee told local media he hasn't looked into changing it. 

Under the same law, Tennessee governors are also required to annually honor five other dates as "days of special observance." Those include proclaiming Memorial Day as "Confederate Decoration Day" and January 19 as "Robert E. Lee Day."