Taylor Swift is adding her voice to the conversation around statues of historical figures associated with racism, issuing a message to the state of Tennessee on Friday. In a thread of tweets, Swift discussed the statues of former state lawmaker and newspaper publisher Edward Carmack and former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest, criticizing them both and condemning their proposed replacement and permanence.
"As a Tennessean, it makes me sick that there are monuments standing in our state that celebrate racist historical figures who did evil things," she began. "Edward Carmack and Nathan Bedford Forrest were DESPICABLE figures in our state history and should be treated as such." A statue of Carmack was in the Tennessee State Capitol before it was torn down last week in the protests and the state has since vowed to replace it. In her threat, Swift pointed out that Carmack "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 continued, "Replacing his statue is a waste of state funds and a waste of an opportunity to do the right thing."
As a Tennessean, it makes me sick that there are monuments standing in our state that celebrate racist historical figures who did evil things. Edward Carmack and Nathan Bedford Forrest were DESPICABLE figures in our state history and should be treated as such.— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) June 12, 2020
The Grammy winner then turned to the statue of Bedford Forrest, which is part of a Confederate tribute along Interstate-65 just south of Nashville. Calling it a "monstrosity," Swift 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." She also referenced the holiday honoring him and continued, "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."
Swift acknowledged that while "taking down statues isn’t going to fix centuries of systemic oppression, violence and hatred that black people have had to endure," "it might bring us one small step closer to making ALL Tennesseans and visitors to our state feel safe - not just the white ones." "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," she continued before 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."
"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," the 30-year-old concluded. "You can’t change history, but you can change this." Earlier this week, Reese Witherspoon, who was raised in Nashville, also spoke out against a bust of Bedford Forrest in the State Capitol and criticized Tennessee governor Bill Lee for his lack of action.