Alabama Democrats call on GOP lawmaker who attended event honoring KKK leader to resign

A bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest.
(Image credit: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Democratic and Republican leaders in Alabama are denouncing state Rep. Will Dismukes (R) for attending a birthday celebration in Selma for Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general and the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

Dismukes, who is also chaplain for the Prattville Dragoons chapter of the Sons of the Confederacy, gave the invocation at the birthday event, posted on social media that he had a "great time" honoring Forrest, and shared a photo showing him standing in front of a Confederate flag.

On Sunday, people in Selma paid tribute to the late civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), whose body was carried across the Edmund Pettus Bridge; in 1965, Lewis was beaten on the bridge by state troopers as he led a civil rights march. Dismukes took his post down on Monday, telling it was "in no way glorifying the Klan or disrespecting the late Rep. John Lewis."

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The Alabama Democratic Party called on Dismukes to step down, again; in June, they asked for his resignation because he supports the state continuing to fund the Confederate Memorial Park in Marbury. "Americans don't celebrate racists or traitors," Wade Perry, the state party's executive director, said in a statement criticizing Dismukes as "unfit to hold public office." "Nathan Bedford Forrest was both."

Alabama Republican Party Chairwoman Terry Lathan told it is up to the voters to decide whether Dismukes should be in office, and said it was improper for him to participate in the commemoration. Alabama House Majority Whip Danny Garrett (R) agreed, tweeting that he "cannot fathom why anyone in 2020 celebrates the birthday of the 1st KKK Grand Wizard. And while the body of a civil rights icon beaten by the Klan lies at state Capitol being honored by GOP/Dem leaders from all over the state. This mentality does not rep my party or my faith."

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.