Nathan Bedford Forrest: Civil Rights Pioneer

Nathan Bedford Forrest: Civil Rights Pioneer

Nathan Bedford Forrest License Plate Controversy

I’m sure you’ve heard of the controversy concerning the Mississippi Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans‘ desire to produce a license plate honoring Confederate General, Nathan Bedford Forrest.

CBS News used the following wording to describe the situation on February 13, 2011….

The Sons of Confederate Veterans proposed that Mississippi issue a specialty plate honoring General Nathan Bedford Forrest, who many historians say was the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, the white supremacist group that terrorized blacks in the South after the Civil War.

Forrest is the only individual they want to commemorate. All the other plates would be in remembrance of battles that took place in Mississippi or Confederate veterans as a whole.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) sent a letter to Barbour on Friday saying it would be immoral and unconstitutional to honor a KKK leader.

We are asking the governor to stop this action immediately. Every fair-minded southerner knows that the Civil War was a negative time in history and having a Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan on the back of vehicles will only tarnish the state’s image,‘ NAACP state president Derrick Johnson said.”

As usual, the NAACP and the news media are attempting to shape opinions rather than impartially relay facts.

The original motive in starting the Klan was to protect native southerners from the abuse being meted out against them by carpetbaggers and the like. But when it became purely a racial organization, General Forrest disbanded and RENOUNCED the KKK.

Furthermore, General Forrest then embraced a RADICAL doctrine of equal rights for blacks that was LIGHT YEARS ahead of even what was going on in the North of that day. This won him praise of a prominent civil rights group known as the Independent Order of Pole-Bearers Association, which was a fore runner of the NAACP. He accepted their invitation to speak at their national convention on July 5, 1875 . The events surrounding this speech  were covered by a newspaper of the day….

Miss Lou Lewis, daughter of a Pole Bearer member, was introduced to Forrest and she presented the former general a bouquet of flowers as a token of reconciliation, peace and good will. On July 5, 1875, Nathan Bedford Forrest delivered this speech:

Ladies and Gentlemen, I accept the flowers as a memento of reconciliation between the white and colored races of the Southern states. I accept it more particularly as it comes from a colored lady, for if there is any one on God’s earth who loves the ladies I believe it is myself. (Immense applause and laughter.) I came here with the jeers of some white people, who think that I am doing wrong. I believe I can exert some influence, and do much to assist the people in strengthening fraternal relations, and shall do all in my power to elevate every man, to depress none. (Applause.)

I want to elevate you to take positions in law offices, in stores, on farms, and wherever you are capable of going. I have not said anything about politics today. I don’t propose to say anything about politics. You have a right to elect whom you please; vote for the man you think best, and I think, when that is done, you and I are freemen. Do as you consider right and honest in electing men for office. I did not come here to make you a long speech, although invited to do so by you. I am not much of a speaker, and my business prevented me from preparing myself. I came to meet you as friends, and welcome you to the white people. I want you to come nearer to us. When I can serve you I will do so. We have but one flag, one country; let us stand together. We may differ in color, but not in sentiment. Many things have been said about me which are wrong, and which white and black persons here, who stood by me through the war, can contradict. Go to work, be industrious, live honestly and act truly, and when you are oppressed I’ll come to your relief. I thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for this opportunity you have afforded me to be with you, and to assure you that I am with you in heart and in hand.’ (Prolonged applause.) End of speech.

Nathan Bedford Forrest again thanked Miss Lewis for the bouquet and then gave her a kiss on the cheek. Such a kiss was unheard of in the society of those days, in 1875, but it showed a token of respect and friendship between the general and the black community and did much to promote harmony among the citizens of Memphis, Tennessee.”

The good name of General Nathan Bedford Forrest should not be allowed to be falsely demeaned by those with a leftist “politically correct” agenda. On the contrary, he must be remembered as a civil rights pioneer who tried his best to head off the over 100 years of racial strife that followed the War Between the States.

Deo Vindice!

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