Middle Tennessee State University Students Seek to Rename Campus Building That Honors the Founder of the Ku Klux Klan

The Army’s ROTC recruitment center at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro is located in a building named after Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest. But some students at the Middle Tennessee State University want Forrest’s name removed from the building. More than 200 students have signed a petition calling for the building to be renamed. The students make the case that Forrest’s family was involved in the slave trade. And most important, Forrest is widely credited as being the founder of the Ku Klux Klan.

But other students on campus dispute the contention that Forrest was active in the Ku Klux Klan and consider the general a local hero. A counterpetition was circulated on campus defending Forrest.

Forrest, a middle Tennessee native, joined the Army as a private at the beginning of the war but quickly moved up to the rank of general. Forrest is widely considered the most skilled cavalry officer in the Confederate Army. World War II German general Erwin Rommel is said to have been a student of Forrest’s battle tactics.

The Tennessee Board of Regents will have the ultimate decision as to whether the name of the building is to be changed.

There are more than 20,000 undergraduate students at the university. About 12.3 percent of the student body is black. The fact that on a campus with over 2,400 black students only 200 students signed the petition calling for the name change — about 1 percent of the entire student body — suggests that at this time, there is not a great deal of support on campus for the effort to change the building’s name.