Governor Bill Lee is signing a proclamation recognizing Juneteenth tomorrow – a day that commemorates the end of slavery. Lee says it’s a good time for progress and education about race in Tennessee but has stopped short of making policy changes.
The announcement comes as after protestors have rallied for weeks in downtown Nashville, including inside and outside the Capitol — calling for the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust to be removed, the police to be defunded and other efforts to eradicate systemic racism.
Lee says he’s open to conversations that lead to action, but in Thursday’s press conference, he stopped short of making any commitments. And he says the conversations will be limited to certain kinds of people.
“Well, I want to meet with anyone who’s having what I believe to be productive dialogue going forward. So as I’ve said before, defunding the police or embracing lawlessness is not productive,” he says. “My conversations and my input has been from folks who want to come together to find solutions going forward.”
Lee says he hears the pain African Americans feel when they see the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust in the capitol and says historical context should be added. But he hasn’t taken a stance on whether it should be removed.