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February 15th, 2011
01:06 PM ET

KKK Leader on License Plate

KKK leader & Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest could soon be recognized on a specialty license plate in Mississippi. The NAACP is opposed. The Sons of Confederate Veterans support it.  Click here to read up on the story.

We want to know what you think.  Leave your comments below.


Filed under: Ali Velshi • Anchors
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. Peg

    Disgusting – Why not just create a license plate that says "Proud to be a Racist" and be done with it?

    February 15, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  2. Joe

    I am opposed also.

    February 15, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  3. RON

    How can anyone justify honoring a KKK leader past or present ?

    February 15, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  4. Tony

    I'm all for it. The more racists and bigots that identify themselves in a public way, the easier it is to spot them and address the ongoing issues of racism in our country.

    February 15, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  5. Suzanne

    We are going to immortalize an individual and organization that perpuated and continues to pertuate HATE????? ALL American's should stand up and Unite and say NO WAY!!! What does this say about Mississippi ... no way I'll go there and I'm white.

    February 15, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  6. Joey Di Paolo

    I personally do not see a problem with it. Regardless of whether you like him or not or what he stands for, he was still part of our history. Just because the South lost doesn't mean we should sweep it under the rug. There are many plates out there I personally do nto agree with but I simply do not purchase them. If MLK, Jesus, anti-abortion, etc. can have plates, i do not see a problem with another group being aloud to have theirs. this is America and we don;t always agree, but we do have the right to speak our minds and support who we like. If other interest groups can have a plate, then I don;t see why Forrest supporters can't have theirs.

    February 15, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  7. Dale

    No Way! What ever good he might had done while a Confederate Gen is no longer valid once he became the leader of KKK.
    No different than a heros robbing banks.
    Do we forgive them because they were hero's?

    February 15, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  8. Rochelle Morris

    Just wondering why when referring to the president of the US, often I hear Barrack OBAMA not President Obama. I am a Canadian and maybe old fashioned in my thinking but usually it`s a sign of respect to address a dignitary by his title. I spent some time in Florida recently and I noticed this a lot. Perhaps it`s because FLORIDA is a republican state and this is their way of showing their contempt for the president. What is the view of CNN when addressing the president

    Rochelle

    February 15, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  9. Peggy

    The men and women who fought on BOTH sides of the Civil War strongly believed in the cause(s) for which they were fighting. I had ancestors on both sides who fought and died in this war. What is the problem with honoring these people? Just because one may not agree with the cause doesn't make them any less honorable! I don't agree with the causes of the Iraq War, but I certainly think all who fought, are fightling and those who died, are certainly deserving of being honored! I see no difference!!!

    February 15, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  10. Shantee Tiller

    I think that actions like this can potentially undo the progress that has been made for the fight for civil rights for people of color in this USA. It is not spiritually healthy to support any cause that has a mission of oppression and exclusion that in the past has lead to violence inclusive of murder and property damage of a set race of human beings.
    We in the USA should be above this form of behavior at this point in history. We should be examples of peace, unity, and democracy and represent inflammatory decisions. Such actions would be very irresponsible and potentially lead to protests which could lead to a very explosive human behavior. This is a waste of tax payers dollars in local government. We have seen enough violence in recent US news with the Texas shooting of a US official.
    GOD BLESS AMERICA U(united)SA

    February 15, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  11. Bob

    What eveer happened to freedom of speach? Is it only for illegal alliens? Well I wouldn't worry about it, anyway license plates can only hold a total of 7 letters and numbers combined.

    February 15, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  12. Mary Mills

    Forget the license plates. That is a way of rubbing the noses of the African American Community in it at every stop light. We have to find a way to maintain our history without white washing it or black washing it.

    Forrest did some bad things that are newsworthy, but he also did some good things that are newsworthy. The TN state park that is named for him is probably enough. There, on a mountain named Pilkot's Knob, the Confederate Army on land defeated the Union Army on sea. What is so special about that is that it was the first time (maybe the only time) that a land force has ever defeated a sea force. If true, this event deserves a place in the history books.

    Confederate soldiers were also amazing Americans who fought gallantly for their beliefs, just at the Union soldiers did. We need to find a way to honor all of them because they make us who we are today....

    February 15, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  13. Michael Waldganger

    Nathan Bedford Forrest was one of the most brilliant military tacticians that this country has produced. Generals Sherman and Lee thought so. Lee, when asked who he thought was the greatest soldier produced by either side during the war for Southern Independence, replied, "a man I have never seen. HIs name is Forrest." . He is studied as a pioneer of mobile warfare, from cavalry to tanks. If we can honor Martin Luther King despite his flaws, we can honor Nathan Bedford Forrest.

    February 15, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
  14. Mittie K. Carey

    The word "honor" and the phrase "Nathan Bedford Forrest and the Ku Klux Klan" are oxymorons. No honor can be found in a person or organization that contributed to and continues to fight for recognition of the evil system of slavery and the dehumanizing lifestyles that it perpetuated for blacks and whites of the slavery, antebellum, and Jim Crow eras in this country. Our state governments must not add to these immoral and unjust historical practices by using present-day taxpayer funding and resources to endorse, manufacture, or distribute license plates of this nature.

    February 15, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  15. Nat Turner

    Only in Mississippi can a terrorist and mass murderer be honored in such a way. I can only surmise that Gov. Barbour agrees with this travesty. What's next, a state holiday for Timothy McVeigh?

    February 15, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  16. Barbara Johnson

    Exactly, Mittie.

    Since when is the KKK aligned with an official decent Confederate Army. It was a bunch of biggoted murderers whose arrogant, unconscionable behavior showed how 'self-righteous' and ignorant they were/are!

    Of course, those who still behavior that way have the right to show in whom they believe, and what lovely, kind, caring, human beings they are. What better place than to show it on the rear end of your vehicle for all to see!

    February 15, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  17. Whitaker Denman

    Neither are we now, nor were our ancestors monsters. Although not a member of the SCV, all eight of my great grandfathers were members of Mississippi units in the Civikl War. As usual, the current vogue is to dinegrate anything Southern or Old South. Yes, Slavery was abhorent, but there is not a race or ethinicity that has not been a slave or a slaveholder in all eternity.
    .
    People insult the Memory of Forrest without taking the time or effort to understand or know the man. I am not an apologist, but I study the man and know him to be and advocate of the black man. I encourage anyone to read his speech to the all Black Pole-Bearers Association (Like a Carnival Krewe) , a predecessor to the NAACP. In this speech he encourages the black population in their efforts and praises them. He was cleared of wrong doing at Fort Pillow and was not a founder of the Kluxers. These facts are easily found on the internet or at any local Library. It is amazing to me that people will destroy a reputation with out knowing the person or trying to understand his point of view. Even Aticus advised Scout to stand in Walter Cunningham's shoes and view the world from his prospective.

    February 15, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
  18. Michael Waldganger

    One might suggest that we all become more informed about Nathan Bedford Forrest. He was penitent about his involvement with the Klan, and called for it to be disbanded. He supported it as a result of the draconian measures of the Reconstruction Era. The depredations of a military government usually bring about a violent response. A reasoned objective historical biography of Forrest was written by Jack Hurst. It's an antidote to simplistic thinking.

    February 15, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
  19. June Clendening

    In this day and age, I cannot believe that Mississippi would be backward enough to so honor the KKK leader on license plates. Is this being pushed by Governor Hayley Barbour who wants to run for President. Lord, help us all. .

    February 15, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
  20. Rudy05

    I think that it's unfortunate and very insensitive. They should be ashamed that in this 21st century we are are stuck on race.

    February 15, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  21. Kevknow

    Let's not put the guy tied to the KKK on the plates. But we should honor the man who committed genocide against the Native Americans with his picture on the Twenty dollar bill?

    February 15, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  22. Winslow D Spady

    I am a black engineer and I could care less about a license plate. Black people have real problems in Detroit , Camden...etc. The NAACP should get a life and worry about real 2011 problems that black people have.

    February 15, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  23. Randy of New Mexico

    The Sons of Confederate Veterans? What is next? How about The Sons of Nazi Veterans?

    February 15, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
  24. George

    Would people be offended if Germany issued a license plate honoring the Nazis...yes. this is unacceptable and embarrassing.

    February 15, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  25. Jeannie Douglas

    It was disappointing that none of your panelists could speak to more of the facts of Nathan Bedford Forrest's military actions. Why don't you look up the Fort Pillow Massacre, where they massacred black union soldiers–kind of puts his racism and subsequent organization of the KKK in a a bit of a dark light, does it not?

    February 15, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  26. herculestrockefeller

    How about New York makes an Osama bin Laden plate?

    February 15, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
  27. Shane

    Just have 1 thing 2 say about this: It's not worse then Martin Luther King, Jr. being a street name in EVERY state in the country.

    February 15, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
  28. Nat turner

    I am interested to know where the Gov. Of Mississippi stands in regard to this issue. Does he stand with the American people or does he stand with the traitors and terrorists?I have a feeling he is with the KKK!

    February 15, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  29. Kathryn

    I am a Southerner who views history as a process. I have friends in many cultures and races. I am embarassed by the continued persecution of people on both sides of the historical argument. Jefferson Davis was devastated and wept when his southern brothers voted to break with the Union. He was no traitor. He was a survivor. What a weak, cheap shot to bring that horrible time in our history into a mismatched masked discussion of modern day blacks being victimized. The issues of the civil war have never been completely resolved. Both black and white are still victims and both have resisted moving into a healthy postmodern interpretation of the events of that time. At least people are talking about it rather than sweeping it under the rug. This is not enough, however, to address and heal the mutual and ingrained rage still prevalent from that era. Let's all try to have the integrity to not rewrite history and retro-demonize people who are no more or less valuable and fragile than ourselves. We need to own our feelings in the present moment.

    February 15, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
  30. Joan Smith

    Why the continued obsession with the Civil War? Let's bury it and move on! Think of the time wasted on this subject. The Country is drowning in debt people. Focus your efforts on rebuilding America - offer a special licence plate "Move Forward", and donate a portion of the cost of the plate to reduce the national debt. Every State could do this. A small contribution, but meaningful.

    February 15, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  31. carolyn nelson

    I don't necessarily believe in the KKK license plate but as far as "revisionist history" I am appalled! I had relatives imprisoned and killed dduring the Confederate War. What if we not mention the slave ship headed for the US and enslavement but instead revolted and landed in Haiti all in the name of freedom? (and of course the name of the ship escapes me and the name of the leader) Let's revise that. If it's distasteful but true, we omit it; if it's admirable but true, we advertise it. Let's let Jeopardy's Watson decide, we will never agree which is which.

    February 15, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
  32. Monica Watkins

    Bad idea. You have to forget the past and get on with a better life . . . and that goes for both sides.
    However, in all the discussions I have ever heard about slavery in America's past it is never mentioned that Africans were sold to the white slavers by black Africans. And, slavery still exists in Africa.
    Is the NAACP and Roland Martin trying to do anything to stop it? And how do you think Africans in Africa would react to complaints about this age-old, disgusting tradition?

    February 15, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  33. Kday

    Insulting and disgusting

    February 15, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
  34. Jackie

    Despite that we cannot ignore history, and that both what we would individually consider as positive or negative is equally as important in terms of shaping this nation and our people -- It is the word "honor" that I think gets under people's skin. Regardless of how we have done so in the recent past with regard to notorious or well-known people who have both good and bad attributes, we are at a critical venture in the evolution of our people with regard to making statements about and shaping the attitudes and perceptions of our children, and therefore shaping the actions that come of them. It is more important to honor the importance of steering away from a racist attitude, which I think we can all agree applies to a KKK leader, to say the least, than to "honor" historical figures for whatever contributions they may have had that are overshadowed by such an aggregious, radical, standpoint that insults the very foundation of humanity. We need to make a statement that we not only do not condone this line of thinking or behavior, but that we will refrain from accepting it in light of potentially masked positive components of the actions and achievements of this historical figure. The point is, we are at a crossroads in our development as a nation that I think offers us an opportunity to take a stand on such things to make a point that has been muted for one reason or another, unjustifiably and actively, or passively and apathetically. The guy was a racist murdering elitist. Let's not strike him from the historical records as if he didn't exist, but let't not run around talking about honoring people via whatever means when they clearly represent an inappropriate ideal that we should be striving to strike from our line of thinking. A license plate doesn't mean that we are promoting this attitude. But this debate gives us an opportunity to make an important statement, Who cares how we have handled matters that people consider similar. Let's decide today that we understand the reality of what this means to people and show respect for our African American brothers and sisters by saying no to putting a KKK leader on our cars like a permanent bumper sticker. At least if it gets approved, I will know if there;s an idiot in front of me.

    February 15, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  35. JohnH

    While slavery is undoubtedly the most remembered factor for sparking the Civl War, it was not the only nor the most important one. That being said, I think people are missing the facts about the plates:
    1) Forrest left the KKK before they became violent, therefore he was not a terrorist; just an activist.
    2)The Civil War was fought over other issues than slavery.
    a) State's Right's:
    The southern states believed that the central government should be a loose confederation, in which the states would have ultimate say when it came to what would be social and economic law in their respective states.
    b) Seccession only became illegal after the fact. There was no precedent, and this was the Norths way of asserting power to prove dominance.
    3) Like the guy in charge of the plates said, they're just trying to make money. If there's a demand for the plates, I say who are you to get in the way of their Red-blooded American Capitalist dreams.

    February 15, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  36. Dennis L. Page

    Momma always said, "Stupid is, as stupid does."

    February 15, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  37. June Hill

    In alldo respect to our government, what do you people want from a president we elected? I voted for Mr Obama our PRESIDENT and I think he has done a good job so far. All Bush did is hang chada to get elected No one even complained about him. And speaking about cutting Social Security. if the preceding presidents had not borrowed and stole from Social Security and not paid it back you would'nt be facing this now. There are some seniors that depend soley on Social Security we can't help it if we are living longer.. Why don't you people just line the seniors up in a line and start shooting them, then you wouldn't have to pay us our Social Security. Or help with the Medicare.They seem to have no problem giving congress or the senate thousands of dollars for raises when its time for their raises. They couldn,t even give the seniors a raise of any kind last year or this year. but food , house taxes water lights gas for heating and driving didn,t go up for seniors.. Congress and the Senators have the nerve to suggest cutting Social Security or Medicare. God bless these people to positions in this counyry that are in it just to pad ther own pockets, I am glad they have to answer to a higher power evently when the meet their maker . God love um

    February 15, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  38. Frederick. Bronson

    Can I get one sent to me here in NC

    February 15, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  39. billy-bob

    lets go kkk yea baby woo! woo! hang 'em from the cross. tourch that man

    February 15, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  40. Kevin King

    The Lincoln Tax War of 1861-1865 is such a tragic era of American history that we still suffer from today.
    Lincoln was such a tyrant to introduce income tax, and we got his mug on our money!
    I think its a great idea Oorah for Mississippi!
    Mr. Nathan Bedford Forrest was the one who disbanded the KKK in 1869.
    Because the Southern American soldiers who went to war to preserve this nation as it was originally established by our forefathers were welcomed back as citizens by then , and Mr Forrest
    said some of the new members of the Klan were too violent and out of control.
    Last but not least he became a born again Christian and said the Klan was not needed anymore.
    That man was a hero and at last they are honoring him.
    I want one myself!

    February 15, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  41. Liz Carter in GA

    @Tony, I agree with you 100%. In another blog, I've been trying my best to try to discern them (racists) by their HEATED, SARCASTIC, EVIL, DEMEANING responses to issues! I certainly would like for them to come out of hiding, and public DENIAL so we can finally know with whom we TRULY are dialoguing. Maybe we can find a REAL way to resolve this race issue once and for all! I'm a black woman who's willing to compromise on some level, but will NOT go backwards for ANYONE! I've found most racists are cowards!

    February 15, 2011 at 9:02 pm |
  42. Liz Carter in GA

    I also agree with Joey Di Paolo, Peggy, Michael Waldganger. I believe that it is what it is! Forrest is a significant person of AMERICAN history, no matter the stand he supported; or negative perception and reminder it gives; it's still OUR HISTORY! If we start adding on, deleting, rerouting, and rewriting OUR AMERICAN HISTORY, it will no longer be the truth! It'll be reduced to no more than AN AMERICAN STORY! All we need to do for our children is TEACH them PROPERLY! They need to know WHAT we've overcome!

    February 15, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
  43. Troy Tully

    I have reviewed the many comments above. How many of you would approve of a Timothy McVeigh or Lee Harvery Oswald plate? According to the litmus test being established my many of you; the bad the person does can easily be overlooked by the "good" they have done. Both those men were veterans; veterans are considered some of our most valued and prized citizens. According to your standards they should get license plates too!

    Sometimes folks ought to say nothing when thats all they got.

    February 16, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  44. Whitaker Denman

    Not one person has opined that the oft applied stupidity of judging a person living in the mid 19th century and holding them hostage to 21st century morals and culture can be reasonably done. History has never ans will never be able to find a candidate to fulfil this mantra successfully.

    February 16, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  45. Floyd

    i view the confederacy the same way i view Bin laden they were terrorist they rebeled against real americans they killed innocent people for the "right" to enslave men then trade in the uniform for white sheets and hoods to further terrorize defenseless blacks for hundreds of years later whom ever supports this cause should be ashamed of themselves and is truly still an enemy of true freedom and democracy anyone who thinks being proud of the confederacy in any way is a lost cause and is clearly unamerican and is in denial to the truth and history if you support the plate you support the hate

    February 16, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  46. Troy Tully

    Last time I checked mass murder or assassination, either under the banner of "tradition" or "honor" is neither. Therefore it is a spurious correlation and as such a logical error to maintain what is wrong today may or may not be wrong in the past: that evil is a matter of where it occurs on the time line is ridiculous.

    To issue plates with any of these evil men represented on them is do damage to our Republic and to further the uncivil discourse that created such men in the first place.

    February 16, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  47. Carrie Stewart

    As an educator who is trying to teach each new generation to be less bigoted and more accepting of all people, this amazes me. Why would anyone want to publicly honor someone with ANY association to this group. Our history is riddled with shameful episodes that must be taken in their historical context, but this is 2011! Shame on you.

    February 16, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  48. Whitaker Denman

    First let me say Forrest was no saint. That being said:

    In the Fort Pillow congressional investigation it was revealed that the Federal officers in Fort Pillow plied the (untested) troops with whiskey to better prepare them to fight. When Forrest rode to present the terms of surrender under a white flag they did not cease their firing and forced him and his aides to seek cover. At this time, his men seeing the union soldiers firing on The General under a flag of Truce began the chant over and again of Black Flag which in 19th century parlance means no quarter. The men's blood was up and Forrest probably could not have stopped his men anyway at that point. After the yankees fired on him in a position of truce, the Confederates were
    mad. It became a perfect storm.

    First, The White soldiers in the Fort were what die hard Confederates would call Galvanized Yankees. Men from Tennessee who joined the Federals or who had been captured and rather than serve in prison joined the Union Army. Next, throughout the war Confederate soldiers resented freed blacks as fighting men and received mixed messages from state, local and national levels about dealing with them.

    The fact is, Forrest did not order this killing. Unpleasant things happen in war and this tuned up like a tornado. (reference My Lai, Bannister Tarleton's massacre of the Patriots in the Revolution, [That word again]. Check out The Palmyra Incident. And for really tragic consequences look up Commander Sweet of Camp Douglas and how Confederate Prisoners were treated).

    In Congressional hearings in Washington D.C. after the war with William Sherman presiding, Forrest was found Innocent of charges.

    Second, Forrest was no founder of the Klan. It was founded by Six college boy veterans in Pulaski Tenn intending to be like the social fraternals they were familiar with in their Virginia schools. Forrest was asked to be the Grand Wizard, a word play on his epithet "The wizard of the saddle" to give the Fraternity some substance and weight. It was not violent at this time. The Klan has three major and distinct reincarnations and the last two have been particularly violent (Study The "Black Legion of Ohio and Michigan). The first reincarnation began in reaction to reconstruction policies and people like Reconstruction Govenor and Radical republican William G. Brownlow of Tennesse, a man who threatened death by firing sqaud to legislaters not voting his way..

    During this time Forrest saw the organization going rabid and he denounced it and worked to have it killed. There is little documentation to show he was ever a member and he infact denied it before congress.

    The last plate in the series will honor Holt Collier. Holt went off to war withhis master and his son, his best friend. When the man and son were wounded and sent home Holt remained to fight. Holt was an excellent horseman and soon gravitated to the Texas infantry and Fought the rest of the war with them. Nobody forced him to stay. After the War he made his living as a bear hunter in Mississippi and Louisiana and was Soon recruited by Theodore Roosevelt as his official hunting Guide. Holt is the man that guided Teddy to the bear he
    refused to shoot, the one for which is named the Teddy Bear. Holt rest today in Greenville Mississippi on the place where he was born

    It is estimated that between 50 and 70 thousand black men fought for the South or 10 percent of the Army. Forrest units had many Black Soldiers. In late August 1868, General Forrest gave an interview to a reporter. Forrest said of the black men who served with him:

    ...these boys stayed with me...and better Confederates did not live.

    February 17, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  49. EasyEd1848

    Spoken like a General.

    February 17, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  50. Carol Ryan

    Disgusting. Honoring a murderer, a hater, and a racist. What next? A Hitler plate???

    February 21, 2011 at 1:22 pm |

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