Battle lines have been drawn in Mississippi as the debate heats up over the proposal by the Sons of Confederate Veterans to issue five commemorative Civil War-themed license plates, one of which will honor Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest.
The Mississippi Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans has publicly sponsored a state-wide campaign to issue a series of license plates that will mark the Sesquicentennial or 150th anniversary of the Civil War in the South, reported ABC News.
The Southern heritage group has proposed five unique designs that will begin with 'The Beauvoir' design in 2011, home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, which is available now and shown on Mississippi' Department of Revenue website.
This will be followed by "the 'Battle of Corinth' design for 2012, 'Siege of Vicksburg' design for 2013, 'General Nathan B. Forrest' design for 2014 and 'Confederate veterans tribute' in 2015, according to the Daily Corinthian. Who have also reported "each license plate will also incorporate five different flags into the design of the state map."
It is the choice of the controversial Calvary and military leader General Nathan B. Forrest, a native of Tennessee, that has the south up in arms. " Forrest, 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," according to MSNBC.
The controversy has spurred the creation of a Facebook group "Mississippians Against The Commemoration Of Grand Wizard Nathan Forrest," which has been attracting a mixed reaction from individuals posting opinions on the newly proposed automobile license tags.
"Robert McElvaine, director of history department at Millsaps College in Jackson, said Forrest's role at Fort Pillow and involvement in the Klan make him unworthy of being honored, "The idea of celebrating such a person, whatever his accomplishments in other areas may have been, seems like a very poor idea," reports The Associated Press.
Greg Stewart, a member of the Mississippi Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, disagrees and said "If Christian redemption means anything — and we all want redemption, I think — he (Forrest) redeemed himself in his own time, in his own actions, in his own words," reported the AP. "We should respect that."
The Southern Poverty Law Center said Forrest was a "brilliant and highly successful cavalry general — but he was also a homicidal bully."
Some citizens of the state of Mississippi are calling for the plate to be denied: "I think it's offensive," said Derrick Johnson, state president of the Mississippi NAACP, according to ABC.
Kathy Waterbury, spokeswoman for the State Department of Revenue told the AP: "legislators would have to approve the series of Civil War license plates."
Until that time the debate continues on the series of Civil War commemorative license plates.