As John Lewis was Honored in Alabama, a State GOP Legislator Celebrated a KKK Leader’s BirthdayBreaking News
tags: Republican Party, racism, Alabama, KKK
As ceremonies honoring the life of civil rights legend John Lewis began over the weekend in Alabama, one Republican state lawmaker elected to take part in a local celebration of another prominent figure in Southern history: Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate Army general and the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
On Saturday, state Rep. Will Dismukes (Prattville), who represents a district northwest of Montgomery, participated in an event honoring Forrest’s birthday at a private property near Selma called Fort Dixie. The gathering coincided with the arrival of Lewis’s body in the city where the late Georgia Democrat almost died 55 years ago as he led hundreds of protesters in a march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on what became known as Bloody Sunday.
“Had a great time at Fort Dixie speaking and giving the invocation for Nathan Bedford Forrest annual birthday celebration,” Dismukes, 30, wrote in a Facebook post over the weekend, sharing a photo of himself standing behind a lectern surrounded by several flags of the Confederacy. “Always a great time and some sure enough good eating!!”
While many Alabamians honored the life and legacy of John Lewis today, state Rep. Will Dismukes celebrated the founder of the KKK and boasted about it in his Facebook page. pic.twitter.com/Myfpc1hYCh— Kyle Whitmire (@WarOnDumb) July 26, 2020
Dismukes’s post, which no longer appears on his Facebook page but has been circulated widely online, sparked intense outcry from leaders on both sides of the aisle in Alabama, who panned his decision to commemorate Forrest during a weekend in which many across the state and nationwide were remembering Lewis. The 17-term congressman died earlier this month of pancreatic cancer at age 80.
[Dismukes] went on to dispute claims that his original post about Saturday’s celebration had glorified the KKK, writing, “The very atrocities and actions they committed are a disgrace to our country.”
When reached by WSFA, Dismukes reiterated that he had not been thinking about Lewis’s death at the time or the connection between Forrest and the KKK. But the lawmaker — who is a chaplain for the Prattville Dragoons, a chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans — attributed the intense blowback he’s facing to “anti-Southern sentiment” amid the country’s ongoing racial reckoning.
“I guess, with the anti-Southern sentiment and all, and the things that we have going on in the world today, there’s a lot of people that are seeming to be more and more offended,” he told the news station. “We live in a time where we literally are going through cancel culture from all different areas and people are even more sensitive on different issues and different subjects. This was just one of those times that it didn’t quite go the way I expected, and I never intended to bring hurt to anyone, especially my own family with everything that’s been said.”