Veterans Affairs official hung portrait of Ku Klux Klan’s first grand wizard in his office

Painting of Nathan Bedford Forrest hanging in VA Officer's office, obtained by ABC News

ABC NEWS — A senior official at the Veterans Affairs Department hung a painting of the first Ku Klux Klan grand wizard and Confederate general in his office but removed it after some employees circulated a petition to force him to take it down.

David Thomas, a deputy director in the VA office that verifies small businesses for government contracts, never directly received complaints from his coworkers about the painting, a spokesman for the federal agency said Wednesday.

The portrait depicts Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate Army general turned inaugural KKK leader, posing on the back of a horse. The words “No Surrender” and the date 1862 are written on a title card below the painting.

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Spike Lee says directing ‘BlacKkKlansman’ was an obvious choice

The 61-year-old director was stunned when ‘Get Out’ filmmaker Jordan Peele – who had optioned the story and developed a script for the movie – asked him to take the reins on the saga, which is based on the true story of black policeman Ron Stallworth, who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the late 1970s, but knew his own career history would serve him well on the project.

Spike told the Sunday Times Culture magazine: “When Jordan called me up and told me the premise — a black man infiltrates the KKK — I said, ‘This can’t be true.’ And he said, ‘It’s true’, and I was in.

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10 ways to fight hate

racial justiceHow should someone take steps to fight hate in their own hometown? The Southern Poverty Law Center has published “Ten Ways to Fight Hate,” a list of ways that communities can peacefully challenge bias, bigotry and hate crimes. While about 6,000 hate crimes are reported to the FBI each year, many more go unreported. Learn more about how the SPLC recommends fighting hate in your community here.