A petition to replace statues of Confederate leaders in Tennessee with country music icon Dolly Parton has attracted more than 9,000 signatures in four days.
“History should not be forgotten, but we need not glamorize those who do not deserve our praise. Instead, let us honor a true Tennessee hero, Dolly Parton,” Alex Parsons, who started the petition, wrote. “Aside from her beautiful music, which has touched the hearts and lives of millions of Americans, Dolly Parton’s philanthropic heart has unquestionably changed the world for the better.”
“From the Dollywood foundation that has provided books and scholarships to millions of American children, to the millions of dollars she has donated to dozens of organizations such as the Red Cross and COVID-19 research centers, Dolly Parton has given more to this country and this state than those confederate officers could ever have hoped to take away,” Parsons added.
Tennessee is home to several monuments honoring Nathan Bedford Forrest, who ordered the massacre of 300 black soldiers at Fort Pillow during the Civil War and was later a founder of the Ku Klux Klan.
Republican state Rep. Jeremy Faison recently called for a statue of Forrest that has been in the Tennessee capitol for over 40 years to be replaced, suggesting it could be replaced by Dolly Parton.
“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.