License Plate in
By: Calvin E. Johnson, Jr., Speaker,
Writer, Author and Chairman of the National and Georgia Division Sons of Confederate Veterans
Confederate History and Heritage Month Committee (http://www.confederateheritagemonth.com )
West Mill Drive
Phone: 770 428 0978
Union Gen. William T. Sherman said of
Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest,
"After all, I think Forrest as the most
remarkable man our 'Civil War' produced on either side."
reported that the Mississippi Division of Sons of Confederate
Veterans wants to sponsor a series of state-issued license plates
to mark the 150th anniversary of the "War Between the States"
including one honoring Gen. Forrest.
Some are urging Governor Barbour to
deny this request because they believe Forrest led the Ku Klux
Klan after the War Between the States. General Forrest not only
denied being a member but was in fact responsible for getting the
Some even falsely blame Forrest for the
Fort Pillow Massacre even though a Union investigation cleared
Forrest's speech during a meeting of
the "Jubilee of Pole Bearers" is a story that should be told. Gen.
Forrest was the first white man to be invited by this group which
was a forerunner of today's Civil Right's group. A reporter of the
Memphis Avalanche newspaper was sent to cover the event that
included a Southern barbeque supper.
Miss Lou Lewis, daughter of a Pole
Bearer member, was introduced to Forrest and she presented the
former general a bouquet of flowers as a token of reconciliation,
peace and good will. On July 5, 1875, Nathan Bedford Forrest
delivered this speech:
"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.
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."
End of speech.
Nathan Bedford Forrest again thanked
Miss Lewis for the bouquet and then gave her a kiss on the cheek.
Such a kiss was unheard of in the society of those days, in 1875,
but it showed a token of respect and friendship between the
general and the black community and did much to promote harmony
among the citizens of
The State of
should approve the Forrest plate.