ONTD Political

Miss. license plate proposed to honor KKK leader

9:12 am - 02/10/2011

Miss. license plate proposed to honor KKK leader


A fight is brewing in Mississippi over a proposal to issue specialty license plates honoring Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

The Mississippi Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans wants to sponsor a series of state-issued license plates to mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, which it calls the "War Between the States." The group proposes a different design each year between now and 2015, with Forrest slated for 2014.

"Seriously?" state NAACP president Derrick Johnson said when he was told about the Forrest plate. "Wow."

Forrest, a Tennessee native, is revered by some as a military genius and reviled by others for leading the 1864 massacre of black Union troops at Fort Pillow, Tenn. Forrest was a Klan grand wizard in Tennessee after the war.

Sons of Confederate Veterans member Greg Stewart said he believes Forrest distanced himself from the Klan later in life. It's a point many historians agree upon, though some believe it was too little, too late, because the Klan had already turned violent before Forrest left.

"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," Stewart said. "We should respect that."


State Department of Revenue spokeswoman Kathy Waterbury said legislators would have to approve a series of Civil War license plates. She said if every group that has a specialty license plate wanted a redesign every year, it would take an inordinate amount time from Department of Revenue employees who have other duties.

SCV has not decided what the Forrest license plate would look like, Stewart said. Opponents are using their imagination.

A Facebook group called "Mississippians Against The Commemoration Of Grand Wizard Nathan Forrest" features a drawing of a hooded klansman in the center of a regular Mississippi car tag.

Robert McElvaine, director of history department at the private Millsaps College in Jackson, joined the Facebook group. McElvaine said Forrest's role at Fort Pillow and involvement in the Klan make him unworthy of being honored, even on the bumpers of cars.

"The idea of celebrating such a person, whatever his accomplishments in other areas may have been, seems like a very poor idea," McElvaine told The Associated Press.

Mississippi lawmakers have shown a decidedly laissez-faire attitude toward allowing a wide variety of groups to have speciality license plates, which usually sell for an extra $30 to $50 a year. The state sells more than 100 specialty plates for everything from wildlife conservation to breast cancer awareness. One design says "God Bless America," another depicts Elvis Presley. Among the biggest sellers are NASCAR designs and one with the slogan "Choose Life."

The Mississippi Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans has had a state-issued specialty license plate since 2003 to raise money for restoration of Civil War-era flags. From 2003 through 2010, the design featured a small Confederate battle flag.

The Department of Revenue allowed the group to revise the license plate this year for the first of the Civil War sesquicentennial designs. The 2011 plate, now on sale, depicts the Beauvoir mansion in Biloxi, Miss., the final home of Jefferson Davis, the Confederate president.

SCV wants license plates to feature Civil War battles that took place in Mississippi. It proposes a Battle of Corinth design for 2012 and Siege of Vicksburg design for 2013. Stewart said the 2015 plate would be a tribute to Confederate veterans.

Johnson, with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said he's not bothered by Civil War commemorative license plates generally. But he said Mississippi shouldn't honor Forrest, who was an early leader of what he calls "a terrorist group."

"He should be viewed in the same light that we view Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden," Johnson said of Forrest. "The state of Mississippi should deny any vanity tags which would highlight racial hatred in this state."

Democratic Rep. Willie Bailey, who handles license plate requests in the House, said he has no problem with SCV seeking any design it wants.

"If they want a tag commemorating veterans of the Confederacy, I don't have a problem with it," said Bailey, who is black. "They have that right. We'll look at it. As long as it's not offensive to anybody, then they have the same rights as anybody else has."


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fishphile 10th-Feb-2011 05:10 pm (UTC)
*waits for Forrest Gump quote*

I have nothing else to say about this bullshit.
holdyourdevil 10th-Feb-2011 05:13 pm (UTC)
"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," Stewart said. "We should respect that."

popehippo 10th-Feb-2011 05:14 pm (UTC)
oxymoron67 10th-Feb-2011 05:15 pm (UTC)
I just... no.

Nathan Bedford Forrest was a member of the KKK. He committed what today would be considered war crimes at Ft. Pillow.

I get tired of hearing about all these remembrances of the Confederacy. The Confederacy wasn't some romantic place where everyone was beautiful and polite. It was a slave-driven economy. Also, they lost. Move on.

Edited at 2011-02-10 05:17 pm (UTC)
24_24_1_1526 10th-Feb-2011 05:17 pm (UTC)
but won't you please think about our precious white history!
lickety_split OH PERFECT10th-Feb-2011 05:18 pm (UTC)
Now, when I was a baby, Momma named me after the great Civil War hero, General Nathan Bedford Forrest. She said we was related to him in some way. And what he did was, he started up this club called the Ku Klux Klan. They'd all dress up in their robes and their bedsheets and act like a bunch of ghosts or spooks or something. They'd even put bedsheets on their horses and ride around.
24_24_1_1526 Re: OH PERFECT10th-Feb-2011 05:18 pm (UTC)
snapesgirl34 10th-Feb-2011 05:23 pm (UTC)
arisma 10th-Feb-2011 05:44 pm (UTC)
Okay, wtf.
aviv_b 10th-Feb-2011 05:48 pm (UTC)
May I say NO? HELL NO!
nikim 10th-Feb-2011 05:51 pm (UTC)
Smh so hard rn.
greaseyourlips 10th-Feb-2011 05:57 pm (UTC)
tinylegacies 10th-Feb-2011 06:08 pm (UTC)
As long as it's not offensive to anybody, then they have the same rights as anybody else has

Well obviously this IS offensive to people.

mercystars 10th-Feb-2011 06:17 pm (UTC)
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escherichiacola 10th-Feb-2011 06:08 pm (UTC)
We want a plate to remember the guy for his redemption and leaving the KKK.

But we want a confederate battle plate to remember all the evil shit he did but we admire anyway.
perfectisafault 10th-Feb-2011 06:24 pm (UTC)
lol mississippi.

making my new home of arkansas look way better in comparison
lickety_split 10th-Feb-2011 06:47 pm (UTC)

Sorry but this is the only KKK leader that ever mattered. Haters fall back. Exit quietly stage left, please.
lickety_split 10th-Feb-2011 07:32 pm (UTC)

raggedyanndy 10th-Feb-2011 07:52 pm (UTC)
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