NAACP Offers Most Concise Reaction To KKK Leader License Plate
A Sons of Confederate Veterans chapter in Mississippi asked state legislators to approve a license plate honoring General Nathan Bedford Forrest, who fought for the South in the war, including a slaughter on black union troops at Fort Pillow in 1864, and then went on to become a grand wizard in the Ku Klux Klan’s primeval days.
To the Confederate proponents, the plates wouldn’t simply commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, which they call “the war between the states,” and Forrest’s military efforts therein; they would offer some kind of metallic redemption.
“If Christian redemption means anything—and we all want redemption, I think—he redeemed himself in his own time, in his own actions, in his own words. We should respect that,” said Sons member Greg Stewart.
Opponents are understandably concerned about the Forrest plates, with reactions ranging from outrage to more measured.
One commenter on an opposition Facebook page, Mississippians Against The Commemoration Of Grand Wizard Nathan Forrest, called Forrest a “murderer” and declared, “You can’t fix death and torture. You can’t give someone their life back,” while another offered this rumination, “Forrest is a complicated and controversial figure. Certainly he was a very successful commander. He did leave the KKK after being one of its founders. However, his pre-war position as a slave trader [and] plantation owner and the Ft. Pillow incident all argue for the not extending official state honors upon him.”
Perhaps the most succinct, to-the-point reaction, however, comes from NAACP Mississippi president Derrick Johnson, who was simply astounded when he heard about the proposed plates: “Really? Wow.”