Proposed Mississippi License Plate Would Honor KKK Leader

Mississippi residents: you may have a new choice of license plate the next time you head to the DMV. If the Mississippi Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans gets its way, the state's newest specialty license plates will honor Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest -- an early Ku Klux Klan leader.

The AP reports:

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 Civil War, which it calls the "War Between the States." The group proposes a different design each year between now and 2015, with Forrest slated for 2014....

Forrest, a Tennessee native, is revered by some as a military genius and reviled by others for leading the 1864 massacre of black Union troops at Fort Pillow, Tenn. Forrest was a Klan grand wizard in Tennessee after the war.

It's astounding that the Sons of Confederate Veterans seems to not understand why featuring Forrest on a state-issued license plate would be... problematic, to say the least. Member Greg Stewart, who spoke with the AP, pointed to the fact that Forrest distanced himself from the KKK later in life. "[H]e redeemed himself in his own time, in his own actions, in his own words....We should respect that," he said.

Still not ok.

State NAACP president Derrick Johnson was rendered nearly speechless upon learning about the proposed plate. "Seriously?" he told the AP. "Wow."

Reportedly, Mississippi has fairly lax rules about letting organizations create specialty license plates. One of the state's top-sellers is a plate that reads "Choose Life."

AlterNet / By Lauren Kelley

Posted at February 10, 2011, 4:42am

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