Taylor Swift shared her disgusted feelings to see ‘racist historical figures’ memorialized on the streets of her home state, like a ‘white supremacist newspaper editor’ and the Ku Klux Klan’s first grand wizard.
Taylor Swift, 30, wants all people in her home state of Tennessee to feel safe — “not just the white ones.” This was the backbone of the Grammy-winning singer’s powerful message, typed across a series of tweets and an Instagram post on June 12, as she called on the Capitol Commission and Tennessee Historical Commission to take down statues of historical figures that Taylor and countless others are calling out for their “racist” values.
“As a Tennessean, it makes me sick that there are monuments standing in our state that celebrate racist historical figures who did evil things,” she tweeted, and added, “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.” Taylor made it clear that history shouldn’t be prioritized over Tennessee’s living citizens; she also wrote, “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.”
Taylor reported that these “villains” include former Tennessee Senator Edward Carmack and Confederate Army General Nathan Bedford Forrest, whom she blasted as “DESPICABLE figures” that “should be treated as such.” Edward’s statue was already toppled by protesters against George Floyd’s senseless death on May 30, but the state announced its plans to replace the statue.
“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),” Taylor explained. As for Nathan, Taylor wrote, “Nathan Bedford Forrest 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. His statue is still standing and July 13th is ‘Nathan Bedford Forrest Day.’”
“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,” she added. “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.”
Taylor’s voice is important, since under the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act that was enacted in 2013, “the removal, relocation, or renaming of a memorial that is, or is located on, public property” is prohibited. However, many people like Taylor are taking a stand against laws that protect archaic figures. Protesters recently toppled a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in the capital of Virginia (the Confederacy’s former capital), and statues of colonizer Christopher Columbus have been vandalized in big cities nationwide like Houston and Pittsburgh.
Fans were happy to see Taylor broadcasting an important message to her whopping 86.4 million Twitter followers. “I’ve lived in Tennessee my whole life and I couldn’t agree more with Taylor on this one, those statues need to be torn down,” one person tweeted, and legal analyst Imani Gandy wrote, “She has 85 MILLION followers. A lot of them white girls/white young women who might otherwise never even think about what these Confederate statues mean. what she’s doing is really terrific, I think. Brava.” A third fan gushed, “A true artist stands for justice, truth, and universal beauty…Thank you for speaking truth to power!”
Of course, not everyone agreed with Taylor, like Conservative activist Michael James Coudrey who replied, “If you destroy the history you are doomed to repeat it. People need to know the past to know that these things are not right and take action to prevent them in the future.” To that, a fan of Taylor’s served the best clapback: “Never once been in a park and forgot who lost the Civil War.”