This Exists: Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park
By Ashley Spurgeon
Wednesday, Jul. 1 2009

Let’s change the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park to Fort Awesome

You know that big embarrassing Nathan Bedford Forrest statue on I-65? That one that in addition to being really offensive is also really ugly? Well, it’s on private property and there’s really nothing anyone can do about it.

But hey, did you know we have a whole state park named after the man, too? Tiny Eva, Tennessee is home to the Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park: it’s got cabins, campgrounds, 30 miles of hiking trails, and schoolchildren can learn about "Birds of Prey, Civil War History, River Culture, Native Plants & Animals, Nature Films and Indian Life." Dude, not the preferred nomenclature.

Anyway! Forrest was the Confederate General at the nearby Battle of Johnsonville – but still. The park was established in 1929 and that decade, when not busy with flappers and bathtub gin, also saw Klan membership reach 6 million. Coincidence? Probably (not). Tennessee is like Carrie and the rest of the country is like the prom, and I feel like Carrie’s mom because I keep saying "They’re all going to laugh at you!" and they do, oftentimes with good reason.

Obviously I think the park should be renamed. My suggestions are The Tolerance Center for Diversity and Understanding, Fort Awesome, or Little Eva State Park. What do you think?

©2009 Village Voice Media

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