Black lawmakers in Tennessee’s House of Representatives were furious late last week when they realized they had voted for a resolution honoring the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
Rep. Mike Sparks, a Republican in the Tennessee Legislature’s lower chamber, sponsored a bill to recognize Nathan Bedford Forrest earlier this year. Aside from being a slave trader and a general in the Confederate army, famous for slaughtering surrendering black Union soldiers, Forrest is best-known for his early work with a little local social club called the Ku Klux Klan. When the black members of the House read the bill, they responded with a collective “Awww hell nah,” and the resolution was “tabled for summer study”—which is the Tennessee Legislature’s nice way of killing a bill, according to The Root.
Instead of letting it go, Sparks instead introduced another bill—this one honoring a Louisiana pastor. The measure was bundled with a few other honors celebrating a cheerleading team and a high school salutatorian and passed 94-0. The problem is that people apparently did not read the bill they voted for, so they did not realize was Nathan Bedford Forrest was also on the list of people they voted to glorify.
“He pulled a fast one,” said Rep. Johnny Shaw (D-Bolivar). “I don’t think I owe any recognition to Mr. Forrest at all. If I could take my vote back, I would.”
Members of the House Black Caucus were furious they let themselves be deceived by the Republican bill. But at least Sparks, a well-known advocate of confederate history, claimed to be sorry for the confusion.
“I passed this not trying to hurt anybody’s feelings. Not trying to use any trickery or any kind of problems, but many of y’all know I have a passion for history like many of y’all do,” Sparks said. “I apologize to members of the Black Caucus.”
Democrats did not see this coming, even though Sparks organizes events to honor Confederate Civil War “heroes.” They now know they cannot trust the crafty fellow who seeks to honor historical racists and murderers.
“If anybody wants to debate this issue, let’s go. Bring 1,000 of them, and I’ll debate them by myself,” Sparks said of his decision to honor the slave trading grand wizard. “I have something on my side that they don’t have on their side: I’ve got truth.”
The Root said both bills cite Forrest’s slave trading and his involvement with the Klan, but neither mention the Fort Pillow Massacre, when Forrest’s men captured a Tennessee fort from 600 Union soldiers, half of whom were black. Even after the soldiers surrendered, Forrest’s troops slaughtered all but 65 of the former slaves who had joined the Union forces, while his field commander bragged about the lesson they had taught the “mongrel garrison.”
Let this be a lesson for lawmakers to know what they are voting for. We are in interesting times with our current prejudice president that enables the white power crowd. These lawmakers have to read the bills before they vote, or else, who knows what could be next from the deceptive ones trying to sneak things past.
(Article By Jeremiah Jones)