Taylor Swift is weighing in on the ongoing debate about the preservation of Confederate monuments as such statues are being destroyed amid nationwide protests against police brutality.
“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 tweeted Friday. “Edward Carmack and Nathan Bedford Forrest were DESPICABLE figures in our state history and should be treated as such.”
She added that statues should commemorate “heroes” not “villains.”
As Swift described, Carmack was a “white supremacist newspaper editor who published pro-lynching editorials.” Carmack incited retaliation against Ida B. Wells, a co-founder of the NAACP and a pioneering investigative journalist and civil rights leader, resulting in her Memphis office being burned down in 1892. Protestors tore down a statue of Carmack outside the Tennessee State Capitol last month.
Protesters also attempted to remove a Nathan Bedford Forrest bust from the Tennessee State Capitol building earlier this week, however, a House committee voted to keep the bust instead of replacing it with another figure.
“It was not against the law to own slaves back then,” Republican state Rep. Jerry Sexton said during a press conference Wednesday. “Who knows, maybe some of us will be slaves one of these days. Laws change.”
Forrest was a Confederate Army general and a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan.
While the Forrest bust is still standing, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee will no longer proclaim Nathan Bedford Forrest Day after legislators passed a bill Wednesday resolving him of the requirement.
Since the Carmack statue has been torn down, questions about whether it should be resurrected have emerged. Swift believes doing so would be a “waste of state funds and a waste of an opportunity to do the right thing.” She is calling on the Capitol Commission and the Tennessee Historical Commission to “consider the implications of how hurtful it would be to continue fighting for these monuments.”
“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,” Swift wrote. “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. You can’t change history, but you can change this.”