Tennessee Republican defends KKK Grand Wizard: He 'had maybe over 3,000 blacks at his funeral'
Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan grand wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

On Tuesday, Tennessee GOP state Rep. Jerry Sexton spoke in defense of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general who went on to be the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan:


Sexton's claim that Forrest's funeral was attended by "over 3,000" African-Americans is a common claim among the Lost Cause movement, but it is unclear exactly where it comes from.

Forrest's defenders argue that he distanced himself from his prior sins and advocated for civil rights. Nonetheless, historians agree that before this, he presided over a long legacy of racism and Black suffering, starting with his command of an army fighting for the preservation of slavery, where he presided over the massacre of surrendering Black soldiers at Fort Pillow, and his leadership in the early KKK as it committed terrorist violence against freedmen and their sympathizers. Biographer Albert Castel wrote that Forrest was very clear on his white supremacist motivations, saying, "If we ain't fightin' to keep slavery, then what the hell are we fightin' for?"