It’s routine practice for states to issue license plates in support of various causes or groups, like veterans of foreign wars and conservation efforts. But a license plate honoring an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan? That’s what some in Mississippi are proposing.
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 (a war which the group calls the “War Between the States”). One of those plates would honor Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, an early leader of the KKK.
Forrest is a Tennessee native known for leading the 1864 massacre of black Union troops at Fort Pillow, Tennessee. After the war Forrest became a Klan grand wizard in Tennessee.
But the Sons of Confederate Veterans see in Forrest a military hero who, they claim, distanced himself from the Klan later in life. Forrest, they argue, is a figure of redemption. Regardless, the proposal is stirring up quite a bit of controversy with opponents of the plates suggesting the design be a drawing of a hooded klansman in the center of a regular Mississippi car tag.
If anything, what this story shows is that 150 years later this country still grapples with finding some peace and some healing from the brutality of slavery. 150 years later we still see those divisions, leading one to wonder if they will ever go away.
photo courtesy of escapedtowisconsin via Flickr