State Representative Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis), Chair of the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators, has issued the following statement in response to the incidents this weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, and to yesterday’s rally in the Tennessee State Capitol asking that the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest be removed: “The incident this past weekend in Charlottesville is a painful reminder of the devastation and hurt that racism and hate can cause. White nationalism, white supremacy, neo-Nazism and racism have no place in our society. We express our sincere condolences and support for the family of Heather Heyer, who tragically lost her life fighting against such hate, for the families of the two Virginia State Police officers, and for those injured in the demonstration.
“We are also encouraged by the rally in the State Capitol building yesterday afternoon, calling for the removal of the bust of Nathan Bedford Forest. The U.S. slave trade is the darkest stain on this nation’s history, and should be remembered as the ultimate test of faith, endurance, and fortitude of a people enslaved and deprived of even the most basic human rights. This part of our history should be learned from and not celebrated. Our public buildings, parks, and other areas where we gather, and where our children play, should be free of reminders of bigotry and hate. We are looking forward to working with Mayor Jim Strickland in Memphis to resettle the statute and remains of Nathan Bedford Forrest, and with Governor Bill Haslam to relocate the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest from the State Capitol.
“While this won’t be an easy process, we are not daunted. We will remain strong and steadfast until these hurtful symbols are moved to the history museums and cemeteries where they rightfully belong.”