To the editor — General N.B. Forrest was singled out in a recent letter as a man who contributed to discrimination. Currently his descendants have a 30-million-dollar lawsuit underway in Memphis, Tenn., regarding the irreverence shown to his memory. Your newspaper says that you will not print libelous letters, but you appear to have done so.
Gen. Forrest was a remarkable soldier. He joined with other Civil War officers to form a social group, the Klu Klux Klan, with a number of goals, including to oppose the Republican Party. It quickly spun out of control. Within 3-4 years he called for the Klan to be abolished; which it was for 50 years.
In 1875, he spoke before a society of black people. At the conclusion he said, “I want to elevate you to take positions in law offices, in stores, on farms, and wherever you are capable of going. When you are oppressed I’ll come to your relief. I thank you, ladies and gentlemen, [and] assure you that I am with you in heart and in hand.” He was then presented with a bouquet of flowers by a young black girl; this prestigious white general stunned the audience by thanking her with a kiss on her cheek. This gathering, which grew into the NAACP of today, greeted his speech and his gesture with loud applause. This was as symbolic as southerner Pee Wee Reese’s gesture to Jackie Robinson.
I have been hurt severely by libel as, I am sure, have many of your other readers. It is painful. There is no reason for libel. There is no reason to smear a great man’s memory. We should all remember the ninth commandment, “Thou shall not bear false witness.”