In 2018, students and officials at Middle Tennessee State University pushed for a building known as Forrest Hall to be renamed. When it went up for a vote with the Tennessee Historical Commission, they didn’t get approval.
Three years later, on a rainy July day, student Toriana Williams stood in front of Forrest Hall and wondered what the removal of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s bust from the Tennessee State Capitol could mean for MTSU.
“I think it’s confusing that they would remove the bust and not have removed or renamed Forrest Hall,” Williams says. “I’m not sure what changed for them. It does make me excited for their possible support in this situation.”
Only four petitions have made it through the process laid out in a state law called the Heritage Protection Act, including the Forrest bust. Those legal hoops put in place by the law can have a chilling effect.