A controversial statue of a former KKK leader that has been in the Tennessee capitol for over 40 years could be replaced by country music icon and actress Dolly Parton, reports ABC-affiliate WBMA.
Since 1978, visitors to the Tennessee Capitol building have been greeted by a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a former Confederate general and early Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
Local lawmakers are considering options to replace Forrest and according to reports, Dolly Parton is one candidate, reports WBMA.
Republican state Rep. Jeremy Faison was the first person to propose removing the statue late last year.
“I fundamentally reject any notion by someone saying that moving him to the museum is trying to whitewash history,” Faison told The Tennessean. “If we want to preserve history, then let’s tell it the right way.”
He continued: “Right now there are eight alcoves [in the Capitol building]. Seven are filled with white men. [I could] think of 100 other people deserving of that post.”
“How about getting a lady in there? My daughter is 16, and I would love for her to come into the Capitol and see a lady up there. What’s wrong with [women’s suffrage activist] Anne Dallas Dudley getting in that alcove? What’s wrong with someone like Dolly Parton being put in that alcove?”
Faison has also suggested building a monument to honor the slaves who built the Capitol Building, while the bust of Forrest should be placed in a museum to educate people about the Fort Pillow massacre of 1864 – where soldiers under Forrest’s command massacred African American troops.
Parton, who operates the state’s most successful tourist attraction, Dollywood, has been on the receiving end of threats from the Ku Klux Klan.
The music legend is a proud supporter of LGBT rights and even hosts “Gay Day” at her theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. She told ABC News that the event caught the attention of the KKK.
“When it first started there were people giving us threats, I still get threats,” Parton said. “But like I said, I’m in business. I just don’t feel like I have to explain myself. I love everybody.”
“Lately there has been mounting pressure to downplay Nathan Bedford Forrest’s legacy in Tennessee, in the wake of George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter movement,” WBMA reports.