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Friday, June 14, 2024

Mississippii considering license places honoring Ku Klux Klan

Greg Stewart, a member of the Mississippi Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, displays a sample of the latest Civil War sesquicentennial tag that is being sold, left, adjacent to the current tag in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011. A fight is brewing in Mississippi over a proposal to issue specialty license plates honoring Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

A fight is brewing in Mississippi over a proposal to issue specialty license plates honoring Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

The Mississippi Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans wants to sponsor a series of state-issued license plates to mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, which it calls the “War Between the States.” The group proposes a different design each year between now and 2015, with Forrest slated for 2014.

“Seriously?” state NAACP president Derrick Johnson said when he was told about the Forrest plate. “Wow.”

Forrest, a Tennessee native, is revered by some as a military genius and reviled by others for leading the 1864 massacre of black Union troops at Fort Pillow, Tenn. Forrest was a Klan grand wizard in Tennessee after the war.

Sons of Confederate Veterans member Greg Stewart said he believes Forrest distanced himself from the Klan later in life. It’s a point many historians agree upon, though some believe it was too little, too late, because the Klan had already turned violent before Forrest left.

“If Christian redemption means anything — and we all want redemption, I think — he redeemed himself in his own time, in his own actions, in his own words,” Stewart said. “We should respect that.”

State Department of Revenue spokeswoman Kathy Waterbury said legislators would have to approve a series of Civil War license plates. She said if every group that has a specialty license plate wanted a redesign every year, it would take an inordinate amount time from Department of Revenue employees who have other duties.

SCV has not decided what the Forrest license plate would look like, Stewart said. Opponents are using their imagination.

A Facebook group called “Mississippians Against The Commemoration Of Grand Wizard Nathan Forrest” features a drawing of a hooded klansman in the center of a regular Mississippi car tag.

Robert McElvaine, director of history department at the private Millsaps College in Jackson, joined the Facebook group. McElvaine said Forrest’s role at Fort Pillow and involvement in the Klan make him unworthy of being honored, even on the bumpers of cars.

“The idea of celebrating such a person, whatever his accomplishments in other areas may have been, seems like a very poor idea,” McElvaine told The Associated Press.

Mississippi lawmakers have shown a decidedly laissez-faire attitude toward allowing a wide variety of groups to have speciality license plates, which usually sell for an extra $30 to $50 a year. The state sells more than 100 specialty plates for everything from wildlife conservation to breast cancer awareness. One design says “God Bless America,” another depicts Elvis Presley. Among the biggest sellers are NASCAR designs and one with the slogan “Choose Life.”

The Mississippi Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans has had a state-issued specialty license plate since 2003 to raise money for restoration of Civil War-era flags. From 2003 through 2010, the design featured a small Confederate battle flag.

The Department of Revenue allowed the group to revise the license plate this year for the first of the Civil War sesquicentennial designs. The 2011 plate, now on sale, depicts the Beauvoir mansion in Biloxi, Miss., the final home of Jefferson Davis, the Confederate president.

SCV wants license plates to feature Civil War battles that took place in Mississippi. It proposes a Battle of Corinth design for 2012 and Siege of Vicksburg design for 2013. Stewart said the 2015 plate would be a tribute to Confederate veterans.

Johnson, with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said he’s not bothered by Civil War commemorative license plates generally. But he said Mississippi shouldn’t honor Forrest, who was an early leader of what he calls “a terrorist group.”

“He should be viewed in the same light that we view Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden,” Johnson said of Forrest. “The state of Mississippi should deny any vanity tags which would highlight racial hatred in this state.”

Democratic Rep. Willie Bailey, who handles license plate requests in the House, said he has no problem with SCV seeking any design it wants.

“If they want a tag commemorating veterans of the Confederacy, I don’t have a problem with it,” said Bailey, who is black. “They have that right. We’ll look at it. As long as it’s not offensive to anybody, then they have the same rights as anybody else has.”



Mississippi Department of Revenue, specialty license plates:
Copyright © 2011

7 thoughts on “Mississippii considering license places honoring Ku Klux Klan”

  1. We honor men who had slaves all the time.

    George Washington hired a dentist to transplant nine teeth into his jaw–having extracted them from the mouths of his slaves.

    Thomas Jefferson had fathered at least one child with his slave Sally Hemings. Jefferson extended slavery with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.

    Richard Henry Lee and Patrick Henry traded and whipped their slaves.

    James Monroe executed nearly 30 slaves after an attempted revolt.

    Our heroes can easily be someone’s villain.

    • Thanks Woody for the historical perspective. What’s amazing for men that could both think and write well concerning the maintenance of freedom for all time and places could be so compartmentalized in their thinking when it came to the treatment of fellow beings; ie, humans, their own kind regardless of skin color and circumstances; ie. having been captured by arab slavers then sold out of West and North African ports for the New World slave trade.

      The story of Washington’s teeth implant ‘procedure’ sounds down right disgusting to me, not simply the procurement of the teeth, but that ol’ George may have a screw loose or two regardless of paintings feating his leadership during the War of Independence.

      I decided to read the biography of Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest a man who made if from private to general during the Civil War. They say he was unschooled, but not illiterate. Evidently he was a natural, to genius level when it came to understanding tactics along with being a gifted handler of horses on and off the field of battle. Looking at photo’s of the man, I get the impression he was one hard-assed knucklehead to either deal with or confront on the field of battle. That’s great for being a warrior, but when it comes to his involvement with the early Klan’s agenda during “Reconstruction” he’s seemingly a guy that most genteel people wouldn’t want to know or hang out with unless cut from the same cloth.

      The men of grit that founded this country as well as those that lived, worked, fought and died throughout the evolution of the Republic in the 18th and 19th century have little in common with modern day ‘weenies”.

      That too may explain why modern era people seem to place little value on what it took to forge a nation from the revolution to present little realizing that to maintain freedom for all time and places takes men and women with true grit. Freedom is not free…!

      Carl Nemo **==

      • Word useage clarification:

        “knucklehead” …extract from post

        The general definition refers to one as being stupid or a dolt. In a way that may be true, but to me it’s a person that will redouble their efforts in the face of possible, to certain failure, a dangerous person indeed to confront on the field of battle; ie., a hardheaded, dedicated soul.

        General Forrest was certainly not stupid, but surely tenacious to the point of being a berserker of Norse legends on the field of battle.

        Carl Nemo **==

  2. They might as well start printing up their “Haley Barbour 2012” for preznit bumper stickers too. Ye haaaaa…! / : |

    Over 625,000 men died as a function of this senseless conflagration and it wasn’t about slavery either. This wouldn’t include women and children that were collateral damage during the conflict. Most people think that the war was focused on ending slavery which it was not, although it was part of the complex inputs to its cause. The main focus was linked to tariffs and the creation of an all powerful Federal government under which we all now suffer and incremental destruction of the concept of states’ rights. Powerful northeastern banking interests and industrialists had an agenda then as they do now. I thought I’d supply an excellent read sponsored by Lew concerning “The Great War”.

    Carl Nemo **==

  3. The NAACP, the KKK, CARE (and others) are racially motivated organizations which promote one group of people over another. Their existance foments distrust, dislike and even hatred. There should be no credibility given to one that should not also be given to the other. In our society’s current PC frame of mind, it is acceptable for an official to receive an award from the NAACP.
    Why is it then not acceptable to accept an award from the KKK?
    Diversity means difference. Part of what is wrong with our country is diversity and this PC emphasis on it. We need to concentrate on our commanalities not differences. WE SHOULD BE AMERICANS FIRST AND FOREMOST!

    “Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.”

    • Comparing the NAACP to the KKK is just plain ignorant.
      1) Who has the NAACP killed?
      2) Who have they driven out of town?
      3) Do the NAACP really scare you the way the KKK scares people?

      What early founder of the NAACP is being considered for license plates in Mississippi?

      That’s what I thought.

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