An East Tennessee lawmaker is calling on the Tennessee Legislature to remove the controversial Nathan Bedford Forrest bust from the State Capitol.
The bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general and an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan, has been on display inside the state Capitol for decades.
Knoxville Rep. Rick Staples introduced House Joint Resolution 0686 to the floor on Tuesday.
The resolution calls for removing the Forrest bust from the Tennessee Capitol building and replacing it with tribute of one of "literally thousands of Tennesseans more deserving of being honored in the State Capitol."
Rep. Staples suggested prominent East Tennessee figures such as William F. Yardley, the first African-American to run for governor in Tennessee, or Anne M. Davis, an East Tennessee woman who was active in the League of Women Voters who was also instrumental in the founding of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
"It is my idea to move past conversations and ideas that divide us, and give us the opportunity to have a conversation about what could bring us together," Staples said.
For the bust to come down, lawmakers would petition the Tennessee Historical Commission for a waiver of the Heritage Protection Act -- which protects monuments like the Forrest bust.
Lawmakers postponed Tuesday's discussion to next week.
The resolution is non-binding and would not result in an immediate removal of the bust. However, the AP reports Democrats hope its passage would signal that the Legislature no longer approves its prominent location between Tennessee's House and Senate chambers.