Story by Devin Ross // Contributing Writer
Photo by Meagan White // Editor-in-Chief
Demonstrators gathered on Middle Tennessee State University’s campus Monday afternoon in support of changing the name of Forrest Hall.
Forrest Hall, a campus building named after the Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, has been protested by MTSU students, faculty and alumni since this summer, following the Charleston AME shooting.
The protestors marched from the Student Union to Forrest Hall conducting chants and carrying a homemade coffin and an effigy in Gen. Forrest’s likeness. When they came to the end of their march, two members buried Forrest in effigy on the front steps, placing the deceased general’s likeness in the black, cardboard coffin.
MTSU President Sidney McPhee looked on as the group passed through campus.
“Today we are having a burial of Nathan Bedford Forrest to send a message to the task force who refuses to acknowledge his racist past,” said Senior Dalton Winfree, an organizer for the demonstrations.
The 16-person task force, created by McPhee to make a recommendation for the name, is made up of students, faculty and community leaders held one meeting to discuss what to do about the building’s name. They plan to host town hall meetings to hear the opinions of students and are set to make a recommendation to the university by April 2016. The leaders of Monday’s protest say that the group’s April deadline for a decision is not soon enough.
“They think that there is a win win in this situation and there is only one way to win in this situation,” Winfree said. “And that’s to remove the name.”
The task force is not designed to change the name of Forrest Hall, but rather to assess the situation and recommend a change to McPhee. From there, the university and the Tennessee Board of Regents have to approve and implement changes to the name, should the task force determine changes necessary.
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