- The Washington Times - Friday, April 28, 2017

Tennessee lawmakers said Thursday they never meant to adopt a resolution this month honoring Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general and early member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Members of the Tennessee General Assembly passed the resolution on April 13 by a 94-0 vote, seemingly recognizing the contributions of Shane Kastler, a Louisiana-born pastor and author. Lawmakers are now crying foul, however, after learning that the resolution also contains language celebrating Forrest, the subject of one of Kastler’s books.

Several lawmakers who approved the resolution earlier this month blasted its author Thursday, Republican state Rep. Mike Sparks, especially since he added the language involving Forrest only after a separate effort to recognize the Klansman fell flat.

“It was deceitful to the whole body. Nobody in here knew of his intent. He had bypassed the process,” Democratic state Rep. Johnnie Turner said during Thursday’s House hearing, the Assembly’s first public meeting since the resolution’s contents made waves this month, WSMV reported.

“I can’t believe that anybody would do something that underhanded when he knew how we felt,” Mr. Turner said, according to a local ABC affiliate.

Rep. Antonio Parkinson, Memphis Democrat, called Mr. Sparks‘ behavior “repulsive.”

“It’s sickening, it’s underhanded, it’s conniving, it’s crafty, it’s shady,” Mr. Parkinson said.

The chair of the Tennessee Legislative Black Caucus formally condemned the resolution as well.

“Slavery is the cruelest, most inhumane part of our history — one that should be learned from, but certainly not celebrated,” said state Rep. Raumesh Akbari, the Black Caucus chair.

Republicans have expressed outrage over the resolution as well. House Republican leader Glen Casada and Republican Caucus Chairman Ryan Williams joined Ms. Akbari in condemning the measure, and a local NBC affiliate reported that lawmakers are contemplating passing a new resolution disavowing the earlier one.

Mr. Sparks initially defended his actions but apologized to his colleagues Thursday as the outcry intensified, The Associated Press reported.

“I passed this not trying to hurt anybody’s feelings. Not trying to use any trickery or any kind of problems but many of y’all know I have a passion for history like many of y’all do,” Mr. Sparks said. “I apologize to members of the Black Caucus.”

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