‘Unwittingly’ approved House resolution includes praise for Nathan Bedford Forrest

The House has unwittingly approved a resolution that touts the achievements of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest after some members thought that idea had been killed in a committee, reports the Associated Press.

Rep. Johnny Shaw, D-Bolivar, an African-American, says state Rep. Mike Sparks, R-Smyrna, “pulled a fast one” in getting HR97 approved by the House on a unanimous “consent calendar” vote on April 13. That was two days after HJR92, his original resolution, died in the House State Government Committee.

The first resolution jointly honored Forrest and Sampson Keeble, Tennessee’s first black state legislator. The portion honoring Forrest was deleted by Sparks during the committee hearing, but the panel still blocked approving the portion praising Keeble with Shaw, a leading critic, saying Sparks should return next year with a “clean resolution” dealing only with Keeble. (Previous post HERE.)

Sparks incorporated some of the same language on Forrest into the second resolution, which is dedicated to honoring Shane Kastler, pastor of Heritage Baptist Church in Lake Charles, La., and author of the book, Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Redemption, which recounts how the former slave trader “advocated for black civil rights” late in life.

“He pulled a fast one,” Shaw said. “I don’t think I owe any recognition to Mr. Forrest at all. If I could take my vote back, I would.

Sparks was unapologetic for his colleagues not knowing about the content of his resolution before they voted on it.

“Well, whose fault is that?” he said. “I can’t speak on 1,500 bills and a myriad of resolutions that come up here.”

Sparks said his resolution doesn’t hide Forrest’s leadership of the Klan or that he earned his fortune before the Civil War as a slave trader. But Sparks said that later in life, Forrest renounced the Klan, “became a Christian and stood up for African-Americans.”

Forrest supporters point to his speech before the all black “Jubilee of Pole Bearers” in Memphis in 1875 where he spoke of putting black citizens into jobs at law offices, stores and farms and gave a black woman a kiss on the cheek, which was forbidden back then.

Note: There’s a format difference between the two resolutions. The first was a House joint resolution, which means it was initiated in the House with the intent of being forwarded to the Senate for approval there as well. The second is just a House resolution, meaning it does not go to the Senate and stands alone with House-only approval.

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