Republican Tennessee State Sen. Joey Hensley on Thursday morning made a number of historically dubious claims in his defense of keeping a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest, an infamous Confederate general whom many historians believe was the first elected Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
According to Tennessean reporter Natalie Allison, Hensley defended Forrest’s honor by claiming that while he “was in the Ku Klux Klan,” he at least “was not a grand wizard.”
In fact, according to the official Library of Congress website, Forrest was the first Grand Wizard of the KKK, although he later did call to disband the organization.
Fox 17 News Nashville also notes that Hensley falsely claimed that Forrest never committed war crimes by slaughtering Union soldiers who had surrendered, despite the fact that the notorious Fort Pillow massacre has been well documented by the historical record.
Hensley also defended Forrest by claiming that “3,000 Blacks were at his funeral,” while also noting the progress that Tennessee has since made in race relations.
“We have a lot of Black legislators,” he said. “It’s obvious Tennessee is doing the right thing.”