|Nathan Bedford Forrest Statue|
|Dimensions||(25 ft tall (2x life size) )|
|Location||Nashville, Tennessee, United States|
Nathan Bedford Forrest Statue is a statue, standing 25 feet (7.6 m) in height, of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest on a horse, shooting behind himself, flanked by Confederate battle flags near Interstate 65 at 701D Hogan Road, Nashville, Tennessee.
The monument was designed by Jack Kershaw, a Vanderbilt University alumnus, co-founder of the League of the South, a white nationalist and white supremacist organization, and a former lawyer to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's killer. In the face of public criticism of the installation, Kershaw defended the statue by saying, "Somebody needs to say a good word for slavery."
Statue owner and friend of Kershaw Bill Dorris told NPR in 2011 "As an artist, mediocre. As a thinker, he (Kershaw) was way ahead of a lot of people in his time." Dorris described the process of sculpting Forrest: "Jack got some materials that I use to make bathtubs with. And he started with a butcher knife. That's the end result that you see out there right now." Kershaw told an interviewer that his Forrest is crying: "Follow me!" The horse is covered in gold leaf, while Forrest is covered in silver leaf. At 25 feet tall, they are twice life size and the rider is "perfectly balanced". Forrest holds a gun, pointed behind him, in his left hand, and a sword in the right hand.
It was installed in 1998 surrounded by 13 Confederate Battle Flags and 13 flag poles flying various other Confederate or state flags on 3.5 acres (1.4 ha) of land privately owned by Nashville businessman Bill Dorris. The property at 701D Hogan Rd is long and narrow, with the Interstate on one side and railway tracks on the other.
The monument is visible from Interstate 65 by the northbound shoulder near mile marker 77 between exit 74 and 78 south of downtown Nashville, Tennessee. Around the time the statue was installed, the state cleared vegetation to make it more visible from the Interstate, thanks to the efforts of then-State Senator Douglas Henry (D-Nashville).
The statue was dedicated by the Joseph E. Johnston Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, who invited "40 other SCV camps, the United Daughters of the Confederacy and 10 re-enactment groups in period dress." The SCV camp calls it one of its most ambitious project they have done and notes the additional sponsorship of The Southern League and Mary Noel Kershaw Foundation
The controversial statue has been shot at more than once, vandalized regularly over the years and more recently defaced with Black Lives Matter slogans, but always repaired. Protestors even tried to pull it down by tying it to a train. It is protected by a padlocked gate.
The statue was criticized by then-councilwoman (former mayor) Megan Barry in the wake of the 2015 Charleston church shooting, as "an offensive display of hatred that should not be a symbol for a progressive and welcoming city such as Nashville."
Governor Haslam said "It's not a statue that I like and that most Tennesseans are proud of in any way," in 2015.
Just after the unveiling in 1998, Blueshoe Nashville noted that newspaper coverage showed support for and dismay against the statue generally followed racial lines. It also critiqued the statue's quality, remarking that "Anyone seeing the crazed, pop-eyed look on the statue's face might wonder if the memorial is a homage, or a savage put-down."
In 2006, local blogger Brent K. Moore wrote Forrest "has an expression that one makes after sitting on a thumb tack."
In 2015, The Washington Post called it "the weirdest Confederate statue in existence" and found the statue to have "a cartoonish and inadvertently satirical tone, incorporating elements of fiberglass and foil-candy wrapper coloring". The Post called the horse a "golden steed that looks like it was ripped from a merry-go-round for giants."
In June 2015 Gawker described the "alarming" statue as being created by a "fierce racist... for another bad man. The statue is so hilariously stupid that we should keep it forever" for it "perfectly honors the Confederacy."
A November 2015 Vibe.com article entitled 7 Controversial & Offensive Tourist Attractions In The U.S. described the installation as the "ugliest" statue of Forrest and noted it is "surrounded by an overwhelmingly large display of numerous Confederate flags"
Comedian Stephen Colbert first quoted President Trump's tweets about preserving the beautiful monuments in the wake of the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia then immediately mocked this statue by saying "apparently the Confederacy was founded by skirt-wearing nutcrackers riding wet lizards" and by mimicking the pose, shooting invisible soldiers following Forrest and riding an imaginary horse around the stage. Similarly, comedian John Oliver referred to the statue as being "objectively terrifying regardless of context", describing the statue's face as looking "like if a nickel did cocaine".
Atlas Obscura called it "One Confederate statue that accurately reflects the uglyness of its subject."
In an article titled The 10 Most Terrifying Public Statues Artnet news wrote the "statue (is) alarmingly racist, to say that it is also poorly done is a gross understatement" while Shareart lead The 10 Most Bizarre Public Sculptures with this effort.
Salon described the statue as something "fashioned by someone who's had a human described to him but has never actually seen one in real life."
The Independent went with a simple "stupid, racist statue" and called for its removal.
In late December 2017, the statue was vandalized with red paint.
The owner of the statue and the land it sits on, Bill Dorris, is a Nashville lawyer and businessman. He has regularly given media interviews defending his right to display the Forrest statue and his flags. Dorris denies being a racist. He calls slavery a form of "social security" for African Americans.
Dorris has "turned down requests from the KKK to hold rallies" at the site. Dorris also argued removing the statue would be detrimental to Nashville's tourism industry, and he compared it to historic plantations in the Nashville area like the Travellers Rest, The Hermitage, the Belle Meade Plantation.
When the Metro Region suggested adding vegetation, Dorris told WPLN that "I've got some 1,800-foot flagpoles. I could put them up starting tomorrow. They're going to have to build a helluva wall and a helluva bunch of trees to block all that."
Dorris told Canada's National Post paper the people against Confederate monuments in New Orleans are "cane blacks," who were probably "illegals to start with." Dorris also said ""Slavery was never an issue. Nathan Bedford Forrest was not a racist"  and again called slavery a form of "social security" for African Americans, "a cradle-to-the-grave proposition."