Taylor Swift calls for permanent removal of statues of “historical racist figures”

"Villains don't deserve statues"

Taylor Swift has called for the permanent removal of statues of historical racist figures that are still standing across Tennessee.

The pop star asked the Capitol Commission and the Tennessee Historical Commission to “consider the implications of how hurtful it would be to continue fighting for these monuments” in a series of tweets.

“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. She continued to speak specifically of two statues of Edward Carmack and Nathan Bedford Forrest, who she called “DESPICABLE figures” who “should be treated as such.

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Carmack’s statue was pulled down by protesters last week, but is set to be replaced by Tennessee authorities. Forrest’s statue is still standing and Tennessee honours the man with his own day on July 13.

 

On Carmack, Swift informed her followers: “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). Replacing his statue is a waste of state funds and a waste of an opportunity to do the right thing.”

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She continued to discuss Forrest, explaining he 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”. Swift said the state is “trying to overrule” Nathan Bedford Forrest Day.

“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,” she added. “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.

“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. When you fight to honour 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.”

 

Swift’s comments come after she tweeted in support of the Black Lives Matter movement last week (June 9). “Racial injustice has been ingrained deeply into local and state governments, and changes MUST be made there,” Swift wrote. “In order for policies to change, we need to elect people who will fight against police brutality and racism of any kind.”

Monuments marking slave owners and figures involved in the Confederacy have been removed by authorities or torn down by protestors across the States. In the UK, a statue of Edward Colston was removed by protestors in Bristol, where music venue Colston Hall is working to change its name.

Massive Attack responded to the statue being pulled down, saying it “should never have been a public monument”.

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