Lee fills slots on panel mulling Confederate bust in Capitol
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Republican Gov. Bill Lee filled vacancies Thursday on a Tennessee panel considering whether the Capitol’s bust of Confederate general and early Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest should be moved or changed.
Lee announced Logan Hampton, president of historically Black Lane College, will serve on the Capitol Commission. Finance Commissioner Butch Eley will be commission chairman.
The panel heard public comment in February on the bust without voting. Removing the bust would also require the state Historical Commission’s approval.
The bust was unveiled in 1978. The Capitol Commission in 2017 voted against moving it to the state museum. National outcry over George Floyd’s death has sparked a new push to remove Confederate symbols.
Lee has declined to say whether the bust should be removed but has said context should be added at the very least. He plans to call the Capitol Commission to meet.
Hampton’s seat had been open since February.
As chairman, Eley replaces former Finance Commissioner Stuart McWhorter, who left Tennessee government in late May.
The Capitol Commission will have another new member because the Historical Commission’s designee, Reavis Mitchell, died earlier this month.
Legislation awaiting Lee’s action could also add two private citizen commission members appointed by the House and Senate speakers.