Taylor Swift is joining calls for the removal of statues honoring racist figures from U.S. history, specifically two in her home state of Tennessee.
On Friday, Swift posted a Twitter thread urging the state’s government not to replace a statue of journalist and politician Edward Carmack, which was torn down during Black Lives Matter protests in Nashville, and to remove an infamous statue of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest.
“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.”
Carmack was known for his antagonistic relationship with black civil rights leader and NAACP co-founder Ida B. Wells; he incited a mob that destroyed her Memphis newspaper office due to her stance against segregation, lynching, and other racial injustices. A statue of Carmack was erected at the state capitol in 1927, almost 20 years after his death, and was torn down last month during protests in Nashville in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
“Replacing his statue is a waste of state funds and a waste of an opportunity to do the right thing,” Swift wrote on Twitter.
Forrest, meanwhile, served as the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan after the Civil War, in which he had been a Confederate general. A bust of Forrest resides in the Tennessee State Capitol, and an equestrian statue stands near Interstate 65 in Nashville. An additional statue of Forrest in Memphis was removed in 2017. July 13 has annually been proclaimed Nathan Bedford Forrest Day in the state; however, the state legislature recently passed a bill allowing the governor not to declare the holiday.
The presence of statues and monuments honoring Confederate generals and other racist figures from U.S. history has been a recurring controversy in recent years, and has flared up again amid ongoing, nationwide protests for racial justice. Many of the statues are being removed at the protesters’ behest.
“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,” Swift wrote on Twitter. “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.”
To help combat systemic racism, please consider donating to these organizations:
- Campaign Zero, which is dedicated to ending police brutality in America through research-based strategies.
- Color of Change, which works to move decision makers in corporations and government to be more responsive to racial disparities.
- Equal Justice Initiative, which provides legal services to people who have been wrongly convicted, denied a fair trial, or abused in state jails and prisons.