Alabama Republican lawmaker’s post praising KKK leader denounced by Democrats, GOP

The Alabama Democratic Party renewed its call for a state lawmaker to step down after he posted on social media that he had a “great time” honoring Confederate Army General and Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest over the weekend.

And while the state’s Republican Party isn’t asking Rep. Will Dismukes, R-Prattville, to resign, the party’s chairwoman called the tribute improper.

Dismukes said on Facebook Sunday that he had a “great time” celebrating Forrest’s birthday at Fort Dixie in Selma, adding that he gave the invocation for the festivities.

“Always a great time and some sure good enough eating!!” wrote Dismukes, who is a chaplain for the Prattville Dragoons, a chapter of the Sons of the Confederacy.

Dismukes took the post down by Monday, and said that the photo and posting “was in no way glorifying the Klan or disrespecting the late Rep. John Lewis,” the Alabama, Civil Rights icon and longtime congressman from Georgia who died last week and was celebrated in Alabama over the weekend.

Alabama Democratic Party Executive Director Wade Perry said Dismukes is an “extremist” who is “unfit to hold public office” over the posting.

“Will Dismukes has demonstrated yet again why he is unfit to hold public office. Americans don’t celebrate racists or traitors. Nathan Bedford Forrest was both. And a founder of the Klan,” Perry said in a statement. “The Alabama Democratic Party renews our call for Dismukes to resign. It’s 2020 and it’s time for racial extremists like Will Dismukes to go away.”

The party’s call on Monday for Dismukes to step down is the second time in as many months that it urged the Montgomery-area lawmaker to resign.

In late June, the party said Dismukes should abandon his post because he supports continued state funding for Confederate Memorial Park in Marbury, about 28 miles north of Montgomery.

Alabama Republican Party Chairwoman Terry Lathan said the GOP isn’t asking on Dismukes to resign, saying his political future should be up to the voters in his district. But she also said it was improper for Dismukes to pay tribute to the KKK’s first grand wizard.

“It is one thing to honor one’s Southern heritage, however, it is completely another issue to specifically commemorate the leader of an organization with an indisputable history of unconscionable actions and atrocities toward African-Americans,” Lathan said. “I strongly urge his constituents to contact Rep. Dismukes to articulate and share with him their thoughts on his personal actions.”

Alabama House leaders also condemned Dismukes’ post.

Alabama House Majority Whip Danny Garrett, R-Trussville, said the social media post “does not represent my party or my faith.”

Alabama House Speaker Mac McCutcheon agreed with Lathan that voters should decide whether Dismukes remains in office but added that he and other Republican House members spent the weekend honoring Lewis and not a Confederate general and KKK leader.

Lecia Brooks, chief of staff of the Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund, said it was “no accident that state Rep. Will Dismukes chose to blatantly celebrate a brutal slaveholder, Nathan Bedford Forrest, a former Confederate general and first Grand Wizard of the original Ku Klux Klan who spent his life intimidating, dehumanizing and working to keep Black people in chains.”

“Rep. Dismukes’ incessant need to romanticize the failed Confederacy even at the expense of the late Congressman John Lewis — one of Alabama’s favorite sons and one of the nation’s revered civil rights icons — is beyond the pale. Dismukes cannot be allowed to play both sides of the fence this time,” Brooks said in a statement. “We call on Rep. Dismukes to take accountability for his actions and reconcile with the state’s history. Alabamians deserve elected and government officials who do not embrace hate or glorify individuals like Nathan Beford Forrest who are synonymous with anti-black racism. Our state deserves leaders like the late Congressman Lewis, who worked to unite and not divide us.”

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