MTSU Students Protest ‘Racist Figures,’ Rally Against Forrest Hall

Some MTSU students are joining the debate on offensive symbolism by requesting the name of Forrest Hall be changed.

Forrest Hall was named after Nathan Bedford Forrest in 1958 due to his involvement in the Confederate Army. However, Forrest is also alleged to have served as the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan in 1868, though he later distanced himself from the organization as it grew more violent.

Forrest Hall’s name has been protested in the past due to his connection to the Ku Klux Klan. However, enough students have supported the name through a series of open forums and Student Government Association votes, that it has stayed intact thus far.

After the shooting of nine Charleston AME church-goers last week by a white gunman who had been photographed sporting Rhodesian and Confederate logos, the nation has been in a whirl, discussing the affect of symbolism.

As a result, MTSU students have been protesting and petitioning online to reopen the discussion of changing the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest Hall.

Over 600 students have already liked the Facebook page “Change the Name of Nathan Bedford Forrest Hall MTSU,” a group developed this week to protest the name.

The page released a statement quoting Southern Historian Gordon Rhea saying, “It is no accident that the Confederate symbols have been a mainstay in white supremacist organizations from the Ku Klux Klan to the skinheads”.

The students have taken to social media in such fury that university president Sidney A. McPhee and the administration released a statement explaining the history of the building and calling the discussion, “appropriate”.

“In light of the horrific killings in Charleston, and the national discussion that has ensued in the aftermath, it is right and appropriate to revisit this matter with the university community, our alumni and supporters, and state officials, who by law must approve any change,” McPhee said.

In a more progressive and technological age, the opposed students have been able to ban together faster than in debates past. The students, alumni and faculty of “Change the Name of Nathan Bedford Forrest Hall MTSU” held their first meeting Friday evening, shortly before releasing a statement saying, “We call on President Sidney A. McPhee, the State Legislature, the Board of Regents, the SGA, and the Department of the Army to support our campaign and help to promote justice on MTSU’s campus.

Others in favor of the name have started a petition against the change, defending Forrest’s historical value.

“Do not fall under the hype and ignorance, educate yourself,” wrote Lane Matthews, creator of the “Keep the Hall Forrest Hall” petition. “Understand what and who he is, and sign in order to keep his name from being slandered further.”

To support the name change, sign their petition or like them on Facebook.

To sign the petition against the name change, click here.

For more updates on the debate, follow us at www.mtsusidelines.com, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter at @Sidelines_News

To contact News Editor Sarah Grace Taylor, email newseditor@mtsusidelines.com 

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4 Responses

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  1. Heather
    Jun 27, 2015 - 02:31 PM

    How can the removal of a bust, blocking from view a single very tacky statue, removing Jefferson Davis from the Kentucky State Capitol, taking a military genius of world reknown’s name off a building, or even digging him and his wife’s long dead body, or taking down a flag EVER…EVER make a single lynching right? Let alone the millions of people unjustly treated, prosecuted, convicted?

    Does it make up for having to ride in the back of the bus? Does erasing that history balance the scales of justice for Selma? Does it even out the shame and sorrow of Memphis at the Lorraine Hotel? Will it level the field for Andersonville, which I have seen with my own eyes was a shithole fit only for pigs?

    What folly and arrogance these people have to think that will just fix it, and you’ll magically get over it. Sorry, just not that gullible. Not today. Not ever.

    Reply
    • John Brown's Ghost
      Jun 27, 2015 - 08:08 PM

      Heather, this is insulting hyperbole. if you can find me one person associated with this campaign who believes changing the name of Forrest Hall will “fix” that catalog of wrongs and “magically get [us] over it,” I’ll buy you a car. Yes, it is possible to do some good without doing all the good. (In fact, that’s all you can ever do.) Criticize the campaign, fine, but don’t judge it by absurd goals it hasn’t set for itself.

      Reply
  2. Joshua Liner
    Jun 29, 2015 - 08:43 AM

    Heather, your comment is insulting hyperbole. Clearly, not a single person campaigning to remove Forrest’s name believes that this will “just fix” your catalog of historical wrongdoings, and “get [us] over it.” But this isn’t the same as saying it will do nothing at all. It is possible to do some good without doing all the good. (Indeed, this is all one can ever do.) Oppose the campaign, fine, but don’t judge it by absurd goals it hasn’t set for itself.

    Reply
  3. mike
    Jul 01, 2015 - 12:34 AM

    Ladies and Gentlemen I accept the flowers as a memento of reconciliation between the white and colored races of the southern states. I accept it more particularly as it comes from a colored lady, for if there is any one on God’s earth who loves the ladies I believe it is myself. ( Immense applause and laughter.) I came here with the jeers of some white people, who think that I am doing wrong. I believe I can exert some influence, and do much to assist the people in strengthening fraternal relations, and shall do all in my power to elevate every man to depress none. (Applause.) I want to elevate you to take positions in law offices, in stores, on farms, and wherever you are capable of going. I have not said anything about politics today. I don’t propose to say anything about politics. You have a right to elect whom you please; vote for the man you think best, and I think, when that is done, you and I are freemen. Do as you consider right and honest in electing men for office. I did not come here to make you a long speech, although invited to do so by you. I am not much of a speaker, and my business prevented me from preparing myself. I came to meet you as friends, and welcome you to the white people. I want you to come nearer to us. When I can serve you I will do so. We have but one flag, one country; let us stand together. We may differ in color, but not in sentiment Many things have been said about me which are wrong, and which white and black persons here, who stood by me through the war, can contradict. Go to work, be industrious, live honestly and act truly, and when you are oppressed I’ll come to your relief. I thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for this opportunity you have afforded me to be with you, and to assure you that I am with you in heart and in hand. (Prolonged applause.)

    This hated man made this speech in 1875, as a slave trader he kept a family together, and refused to sell to plantation owners who were known to be violent towards slaves, And when he joined the confederate army his 45 male slaves joined with him , and were beside him till the end of the war, several formed his special guard. Maybe you should read some historical news paper clippings from the time, before you accept what the media today has to say about a man.

    Reply

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