Things are heating down at Middle Tennessee State University where students have petitioned to change the name of one of the buildings which honors Confederate General Nathan B. Forrest. There are in fact two student petitions, one in favor of a change and one against. As I’ve commented before in reference to debates about the Confederate flag this is not simply about how to remember the past, but about broader cultural and social changes currently underway in the South.
H.K. Edgerton, a black man who is known for wearing a Confederate uniform in honor of his "black Confederate" ancestors recently traveled to Murfreesboro in support of maintaining the current building name. "How very proud I am of them. They are standing against Southern cultural genocide," Edgerton said. He went on to say that "The Ku Klux Klan under Nathan Bedford Forrest was certainly not a terrorist organization," and "Forty-two black men rode with Nathan Bedford Forrest." I’ve commented on Edgerton’s place in the Neo-Confederate movement before.
The question of whether the building’s name should be changed ultimately does not interest me. This is a matter for the college community to decide. My interests are in the broader story that is currently being written, or perhaps re-written, as the South continues to evolve to more broadly reflect an interracial and multi-ethnic citizenry. This of course is very difficult for many who are committed to a traditional "Lost Cause" interpretation that reduces Southern history down to short career of the Confederacy.