The Mississippi Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans has come up with an idea for celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War—known to some as the “War between the States.” The veterans group has proposed that the state of Mississippi issue a series of specialty license plates commemorating the war. These specialty plates, planned for the years 2011 through 2015, would each have a different design.
What has some people upset is the specialty license plate slated for the year 2014, which would honor General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Forrest, a native of Tennessee, is considered by some to have been a military genius. Others feel differently about Forrest who is “reviled” by some for allegedly having lead a massacre of Black Union troops at Fort Pillow in his home state in 1864. It should be noted that Forrest also served as the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
According to ABC News, the NAACP is planning to send a letter to Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour requesting “that he publicly denounce the license plate and use his office to prevent it from being issued.” Derrick Jackson, president of the Mississippi state NAACP, said of Forrest: “He should be viewed in the same light that we view Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. The state of Mississippi should deny any vanity tags which would highlight racial hatred in this state.”
Although many historians agree that Nathan Bedford Forrest distanced himself from the KKK later in his life, some believe “it was too little too late because the Klan had already turned violent before Forrest left.”