A Mississippi-based confederate group is requesting that the state issue specialty license plates commemorating a former Ku Klux Klan leader.

Members of the organization, called The Mississippi Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, have sold state-license plates bearing a Confederate flag since 2003, but they want their 2014 design to recognize Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general from Tennessee who became a high-ranking Klansman.

Some believe Forest plotted a massacre of Black Union troops in 1864.

A Sons of Confederate Veterans member told the Associated Press that the Confederate veteran eventually left the Klan.

“If Christian redemption means anything—and we all want redemption, I think—he redeemed himself in his own time, in his own actions, in his own words,” Greg Stewart said. “We should respect that.”

His group sells the license plates to raise funds for a Civil War flags restoration project, according to the AP. They plan to design a new plate each year from now until 2015 in celebration of the Civil War’s sesquicentennial. This year’s plate bears an image of the famous house of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

Mississippi’s Department of Revenue, like other states, sells dozens of specialty plates that support organizations, hobbies and even political beliefs.

State Rep. Willie Bailey, a Black Democrat who handles the state’s license plate requests, told the AP the organization has a right to sell the plates.

“If they want a tag commemorating veterans of the Confederacy, I don’t have a problem with it,” he said. “We’ll look at it. As long as it’s not offensive to anybody, then they have the same rights as anybody else has.”

Derrick Johnson, president of the Mississippi NAACP, vehemently disagreed.
“He should be viewed in the same light that we view Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden,” Johnson said in an interview with the AP. “The state of Mississippi should deny any vanity tags which would highlight racial hatred in this state.”