Taylor Swift campaigns to 'racist' statues in Tennessee home state

‘Villains don’t deserve statues’: Taylor Swift demands Tennessee remove ‘racist’ memorials to the KKK’s first Grand Wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest and pro-lynching newspaper editor Edward Carmack because they ‘make her sick’

  • Taylor Swift is urging Tennessee officials to permanently remove statues memorializing ‘racist figures’ from the state
  • She used her enormous social media platforms to issue the plea on Friday
  • Swift specifically took aim to Edward Carmack and Nathan Bedford Forrest
  • Statues of both men can be found in or outside the state’s Capitol building 
  • Carmack’s statue outside the building was torn down by protesters on May 30 

Taylor Swift is urging Tennessee officials to permanently remove statues ‘that celebrate racist historical figures who did evil things’ in the state. 

Swift took to both her Twitter and Instagram accounts Friday afternoon to share the passionate plea, directed at her home state’s Capitol Commission and the Tennessee Historical Commission.  

‘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 on social media. 

Taylor Swift took to her social media platforms Friday with a lengthy plea urging Tennessee officials to get rid of all statues of ‘racist figures’ in the state

Swift discussed, in particular, statutes of Edward Carmack and Nathan Bedford Forrest

In particular, she called out two men – Edward Carmack and Nathan Bedford Forrest – noting that they ‘were DESPICABLE figures in our state history and should be treated as such.’

A statue of Carmack – a state lawmaker and newspaper editor – was torn down from its plinth outside the Tennessee Capitol in Nashville by protesters on May 30. State officials said Monday that, under state law, the statue would need to be repaired or restored and then returned to where it once stood. 

The only way to move a memorial statue that stands on state property would be to obtain approval from the Tennessee Historical Commission, a state official told Fox 17. 

Meanwhile, a bust of Forrest – a ‘KKK Grand Wizard’ and Confederate general – still remains inside the Capitol building and at least one statue of him stands elsewhere in the state. 

Swift’s social media message specifically detailed the reasons why she believed that statues of the two men should be either not replaced or taken down.  

In her social media posted, Swift explained the racist histories of both Carmack and Forrest

Edward Carmack (left) was a newspaper editor and state lawmaker. A statue (right) was erected in his honor outside of the state’s Capitol Building in Nashville, Tennessee 

Carmack’s statue was toppled to the ground by protesters on May 30, after a peaceful demonstration became violent. The statue is seen here the day after, on May 31

About Carmack, Swift wrote: ‘FYI, he was a white supremacist newspaper editor who published pro-lynching editorials and incited the arson of the office of Ida B. Wells (who actually deserves a hero’s statue for her pioneering work in journalism and civil rights).’

She noted that ‘Replacing his statue is a waste of state funds and a waste of an opportunity to do the right thing.’ 

Swift then took aim at Forrest, linking to a Daily Beast article about a specific, bizarre, 25-foot statue of him which stands on private land just outside Nashville. The statue was created by John Karl Kershaw, who was the lawyer for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassin, James Earl Ray. 

Swift called the statue a ‘monstrosity’ and wrote: ‘Nathan Bedford Forrest was a brutal slave trader and the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan who, during the Civil War, massacred dozens of black Union soldiers in Memphis.

His statue is still standing and July 13th is “Nathan Bedford Forrest Day.” Due to social pressure, the state is trying to overrule this, and Tennesseans might no longer have to stomach it. Fingers crossed.’

On Wednesday, both chambers of the state’s legislature passed a bill releasing Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee from having to officially proclaim Nathan Bedford Forrest Day a holiday, but it will remain on the list of the state’s legal holidays for now, The Tennessean reported.  

Taylor Swift has been using her social media platforms to address political and other issues 

At the end of her plea, Swift explained why it was so important to take down the statues  

This statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest stands on private land just outside Nashville

The 25-foot tall statue of Forrest as seen from afar. Swift called it a ‘monstrosity’ in her post

Forrest (left) was a ‘KKK Grand Wizard.’ His bust (right) stands in the Capitol building

Lee, a Republican, had originally introduced the bill, asking the legislature to completely remove the day as a holiday.  

Swift went on to explain why removing the monuments to Carmack, Forrest and others was necessary.  

‘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. 

‘We need to retroactively change the status of people who perpetuated hideous patterns of racism from “heroes” to “villains.” And villains don’t deserve statues.’ 

Swift then addressed the committees apparently responsible for decisions about keeping the statues in situ. 

‘I’m asking the Capitol Commission and the Tennessee Historical Commission to please consider the implications of how hurtful it would be to continue fighting for these monuments,’ she wrote. 

‘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.’   

In 2017, a statue of Forrest was officially removed from a park in Memphis, where his remains were also buried. But, on May 12, it was revealed that his remains would be allowed to be removed from the park, as well, WREG reported.  

Swift had previously kept a low-profile when it came to sharing her political views, but after turning 30 in December 2019, she has been more visibly invested in using her large social media presence to address politics, racism and LGBTQ rights.

On May 29, four days after George Floyd’s death, she took a major stand when she tweeted: ‘After stoking the fires of white supremacy and racism your entire presidency, you have the nerve to feign moral superiority before threatening violence? “When the looting starts the shooting starts”??? We will vote you out in November. @realdonaldtrump’

The tweet was liked by 2.2million Twitter users and received 113,100 replies. 

George Floyd protesters have been tearing down or vandalizing statutes of historical figures with controversial pasts across the country in recent weeks. 

Among the statues defaced and toppled were: Christopher Columbus statues in Boston and St. Paul, Minnesota; a Robert E. Lee statue in Montgomery, Alabama, and a Jefferson Davis statue in Richmond, Virginia. 

Who were Edward Carmack and Nathan Bedford Forrest?


-Edward Carmack was born on November 5, 1858 in Sumner County, Tennessee

-He was a lawyer and served as Columbia, Tennessee’s city attorney in 1881

-Carmack was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives and served from 1885 to 1887 

-During his newspaper career, he was the editor of the Columbia Herald, Nashville American, the Memphis Commercial Appeal and the Nashville Tennessean 

-Carmack went up against the ‘Mother of the Civil Rights Movement,’ Ida B. Wells, who launched an anti-lynching campaign in her newspaper, the Free Speech 

-Following the 1892, ‘Curve Riot’ in Memphis, during which three black grocery store owners were lynched by a white mob, Carmack used the Appeal newspaper to incite a mob to attack Wells’ office 

-Carmack served in the US House of Representatives from 1897 to 1901

-He then ran for and won a seat in the US Senate, serving from 1901 to 1907

-During his failed 1906 Senate campaign, Carmack officially endorsed prohibition 

-In November 1908, after returning to newspaper editing, Carmack tried to shoot his publishing and political rival, Duncan Brown Cooper while feuding with him

-Instead, Carmack wounded Cooper’s son, who fired back and killed him

-In 1909, the legislature set aside money for a sculpture of Carmack by Nancy McCormack to be placed on the grounds of the Capitol

-The statue was erected in 1927 and torn down by protesters in May 2020     


-Nathan Bedford Forrest was born on July 13, 1821 near Chapel Hill, Tennessee

-His family was poor and he spent his childhood in rural Tennessee and Mississippi, becoming the sole provider as a teen when his father died

-Forrest went on to become a millionaire by trading livestock, brokering real estate, planting cotton and through the selling of slaves

-By the outbreak of the Civil War, he was one of the richest men in the South

-Forrest enlisted as a private in the Confederate army, but received a commission as a lieutenant colonel after raising and supplying a cavalry unit   

-In April 1864, Forrest commanded the troops responsible for the massacre of between 277 to 295 Union troops, most of who were African American Union troops and many of who were trying to surrender  

-Despite numerous battlefield and tactical defense successes and being promoted to lieutenant general, Forrest surrendered his command in May 1865 after being defeated at the Selma, Alabama, in April 1865  

-After the Civil War, Forrest was the president of the Selma, Marion and Memphis Railroad and managed a plantation manned by convict labor

-He became the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan in 1867, using his prestige to expand the group’s membership rolls

-Forrest ordered the KKK to be disbanded in 1869 and was ordered before a congressional hearing in 1871, during which he denied membership in the group 

-He died in died October 29, 1877 

Tennessee State Museum and Encyclopedia Britannica  

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