Recording artist Taylor Swift on Friday tweeted a message to Tennessee officials and her 86.5 million Twitter followers and 134 million Instagram followers demanding that statues honoring racist figures in the state’s history be removed from public spaces.
“As a Tennessean, it makes me sick that there are monuments standing in our state that celebrate racist historical figures who did evil things,” Swift wrote. “Edward Carmack and Nathan Bedford Forrest were DESPICABLE figures in our state history and should be treated as such. Edward Carmack’s statue was sitting in the state Capitol until it was torn down last week in the protests. The state of Tennessee has vowed to replace it. FYI, he was a white supremacist newspaper editor who published pro-lynching editorials and incited the arson of the office of Ida B. Wells (who actually deserves a hero’s statue for her pioneering work in journalism and civil rights). Replacing his statue is a waste of state funds and a waste of an opportunity to do the right thing.”
“Then we get to this monstrosity,” Swift continued, referring to a statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest. “Nathan Bedford Forrest was a brutal slave trader and the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan who, during the Civil War, massacred dozens of black Union soldiers in Memphis. His statue is still standing and July 13th is ‘Nathan Bedford Forrest Day.’ Due to social pressure, the state is trying to overrule this, and Tennesseans might no longer have to stomach it. Fingers crossed.”
Added Swift: “Taking down statues isn’t going to fix centuries of systemic oppression, violence and hatred that black people have had to endure but it might bring us one small step closer to making ALL Tennesseans and visitors to our state feel safe – not just the white ones. We need to retroactively change the status of people who perpetuated hideous patterns of racism from ‘heroes’ to ‘villains.’ And villains don’t deserve statues.”
“I’m asking the Capitol Commission and the Tennessee Historical Commission to please consider the implications of how hurtful it would be to continue fighting for these monuments,” Swift concluded. “
When you fight to honor racists, you show black Tennesseans and all of their allies where you stand, and you continue this cycle of hurt. You can’t change history, but you can change this.”
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I’m asking the Capitol Commission and the Tennessee Historical Commission to please consider the implications of how hurtful it would be to continue fighting for these monuments. When you fight to honor racists, you show black Tennesseans and all of their allies where you stand, and you continue this cycle of hurt. You can’t change history, but you can change this. 🙏