February 15th, 2011
03:30 PM ET

Mississippi governor asked to denounce attempts to honor KKK leader

Antoinette Campbell

(CNN) - The Mississippi NAACP has called on Governor Haley Barbour to publicly denounce an attempt by a Confederacy group to honor a Ku Klux Klan leader, the organization said Monday.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans has launched the campaign to recognize Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest on a specialty license plate.

Forrest, a popular and controversial figure, is best known as a leader of the KKK, the white supremacist group known for terrorizing blacks in the South after the Civil War.

He is also praised and criticized for an 1864 raid at Fort Pillow, Tennessee, where hundreds of black Union Army members were killed during the war. The controversy over whether Forrest conducted or condoned the massacre is still a matter for heated debate.

Mississippi NAACP leaders feel a state-sanctioned license plate honoring a man with ties to the KKK sends the wrong message to people in the state and across the country.

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Filed under: 360° Radar
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Stephen Ellis

    Dear Mr. Cooper: I consider myself to be a loyal fan, Independent in my politics, a Northerner, whose ancestors fought for the preservation of the Union, a basically what one might be considered to be just an average American. I did watch your segment on Nathan Bedford Forrest and the Mississippi license debate. I was extremely disappointed that this program was one of the most racially divisive programs that I've seen in the last decade. The individuals representing both sides of the issue were quite wrong in their positions, and in their knowlege of the facts supporting those positions. However you were far from impartial, fair, or even polite. It was quite clear that you had taken a side. There was one fact that neither side brought up. In April, 2001 Mississippi voters decided by a nearly 2-to-1 margin that the state should retain its 107-year-old flag emblazoned with the Confederate battle flag in its upper left corner. The vast margin of victory was not based on a black vs. white issue, but rather on a black vs. black issue, much to the chagrin of the NAACP at the time. A large black turn out voted to retain the old flag because, to quote one African American lady on TV,at that time, "We are just tired of these Northern Blacks coming South telling us what to do." This whole episode that you so shamefully elected to display looks like nothing more than just stirring the pot for the sake of trying to make more out of the issue than it deserves. This sort of thing does not promote reconciliation. I am truly ashamed that you allowed your otherwise very good program to be cheapened so.

    February 16, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
  2. Walt Morrison

    With South Carolina wanting their own currency and Mississippi wanting a licence plate honoring a traitor of the likes of Benedict Arnold. Sounds to me like they want to resurrect the confederacy. What will be the first state to succeed?

    February 16, 2011 at 11:18 am |
  3. Elizabeth S.

    The agrument then could be made as to why we allow Jefferson on U.S. currency...

    February 16, 2011 at 1:54 am |
  4. lena

    What makes these people idolize a man that harmed so many families during and after the Civil War. Just because this man backed away from
    being a leader in the KKK didnt stop him from being a extremly racist person. We should not idolize this man as a military genius, he shouldnt even be considered a man. These men that draged his name from the history books will never understand how much this hurts so many African-American families. Why not celebrate men with strenght and courage and honor above all else?

    February 16, 2011 at 12:24 am |
  5. Paul Ernest Show

    If any right-minded American supports putting Forrest on Mississippi license plates, he or she should not have problem putting Hitler's face on license plates in America or Swastika on government property. Can we do that? The answer is no.That would infuriate so many and the media will have a field day tearing down that idea or those concerned. Well, Barbour is already on the microscope on race issues.This is another test of his claim of non-racist. Double standard is what it is, if we keep silent. It's about time African Americans stop rolling over and letting any "disgusting group of people" wipe their feet on them. Thanks Anderson for even bringing such issue to the debating table.

    February 16, 2011 at 12:02 am |
  6. John

    Well, after the History Channel's new show, depicting Gen. Sherman in a more mild and misunderstood concept, which would have us all thinking of him more as good ole "Uncle Billy" (the way his troops more fondly refered to him), instead of the "Satan of the South" that he has been more thought of all these years, I guess anything is possible these days.

    February 16, 2011 at 12:00 am |
  7. Thomas Mincey

    I don't see nothing wrong with make a licence plate. If u don't like the plate, don't look at it or buy it. You have to look at as Forrest is a war tactic legend. He done great movements on the battle field and that's the way you have to look at it. I think they need to make license plates for Stonewall Jackson and General Robert E. Lee too!

    February 15, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
  8. Jia

    Wow, I don't think I have ever seen someone roll their eyes that many times during an interview.

    Bravo to the professor from Princeton for shinning next to a disrespectful and not-so-undercover bigot.

    February 15, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
  9. Robert

    Wasn't Robert Byrd a leader of the KKK? How long was he in Congress? Had Gen. Nathan Bedford been a lifelong Dem, would this be an issue?

    February 15, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
  10. Ben Barsi

    It was interesting when the gentleman defending the making of the tag, jumped to the Christian defense as a way to forgive this military man for his past crimes against humanity. if he was the first grand dragon of the KKK and a known slave-owner, those facts should abolish any right for him to be honored either by a a license plate, statue etc.

    February 15, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
  11. Abby

    I am a 75 year old woman and I have seen a great deal in my lifetime. What I cannot understand is that there are much smarter people in this country than I but no one has seen what is actually happening. Ever since President Obama was elected (and probably before then) there has been an underground campaign against him for only one reason. When I was growing up during WWII, I heard the expression "uppity n......" I truly believe that our President is being reviled, criticised, and even accused of not being a natural born American because this country has never accepted integration. Look what is happening with the "birthers" the Montana situation and all the rest of the nonsense. Whether or not one voted for him (and I proudly did), he is still the President of the United States and deserves the respect of all Americans.

    February 15, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
  12. mike cheatham

    You wasted a lot of your usually great broadcast witch we look forward to almost every night with this none issue. General Forrest was not the greatest General in the Confederacy and Mississippi was not about to actually make this plate. Keep up the good reporting and you will stay off the "RidicuList"

    February 15, 2011 at 11:15 pm |
  13. Nik

    Mr. Cooper,

    I would like to respond to the NBF License Plate, I think as a white american, we should be allowed to honor our history, my gggreat uncle was killed by NBF, I hold no animosity it was war, it is my heritage and I think we have the right to preserve it. Colored americans honor their heritage, but they put up a fight or fuss when we want to do the same.

    February 15, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
  14. Curtis

    I am a black man who is NOT opposed to having the KKK leader having an optional plate. If its not an option, its not like the people who would have purchased the plate will suddenly have a chage of heart. Its just a way to see who feels the same way that the kkk leader did without all the PC, BS. In other words it would be easier for me to identify someone who wants nothing to do with me, and thats just fine.

    February 15, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
  15. Bryan

    Why would we want to honor a traitor to our nation and one of the founders of a terrorist organization with license plate?

    February 15, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
  16. Michelle

    I'm constantly baffled as to how people like Stewart can sit on national television and defend someone who so obviously participated in the deaths of 100s of black Americans. The fact that he was a known leader in the KKK and a war criminal should tarnish any good act Stewart's followers may believe he participated in. It's offensive to all Americans and would be a travesty for those living in Mississippi if this license plate is condoned. Maybe Stewart should be given a spot on the 'Ridiculous' segment...

    February 15, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
  17. Jeff

    It's mind boggling that in the 21st Century and America is still dealing with people in denial about "hate". When Apostle Paul was inspired to write Ephesians 6:12 "For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere." He knew by the Holy Spirit that hate is pure evil. Hate is of the devil. Those who practice hate and live a hateful lifestyle will answer to God on judgement day. I pray that they learn what love is and how to love thy brother.

    February 15, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
  18. ken

    Of course it sends the wrong message, this is racism, and hateful at that.

    February 15, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
  19. Jennifer Hacker

    Most don't know this, but there is a statue of Nathan Bedford Forest in the Nashville capital building. I have seen it with my own eyes! It is nothing less than embarrassing.

    February 15, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
  20. Chris Pacheco

    Caught the last part of this segment. I find it sad and frightening that racists like Mr. Stewart still exist in the United States.

    February 15, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
  21. Samantha Lecka

    It is a shame that in a country that was established by immigrants from all over the world, educated Americans, and even our lawmakers, continue to display ignorance and intolerance by glorifying a man who established to KKK, and contesting our Presidents obvious citizenship.

    February 15, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
  22. Angelique

    Come on Greg Stewart- Since when Klan members identified themselves back then; they were hooded cowards

    February 15, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
  23. Angelique

    Placing Forrest on a license plate would be akin to placing the "DC Sniper" on a plate; simply Crazy!

    February 15, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
  24. douglas hamilton

    We shouldn't honor any formd of hate,but we should at least honor freedom of speech.

    February 15, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
  25. Dominique Phillips

    Honoring Nathan Forrest would not only be irresponsible, but it will be a major insult to this country. Whether people want to hear it or not, he was domestic terrorist, who was in charge of the most violent terrorist groups in our country. It's scary to think that people would actually ride around with a license plate honoring a member of the Ku Klux Klan. If this passes, then the state of California should pass a law to make a license plate to honor the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. At least their goal was to gain equality for African-Americans and was one of the most powerful movements since the Civil War.

    February 15, 2011 at 9:02 pm |