Since the protests around the murder of George Floyd erupted over the past few weeks and across the country, many statues honoring Confederate war generals have been quietly, or publicly, taken down across the world. While some governments have elected to do this absent serious public pressure, other states have begun a slower process of removing these statues, continuing on with the debates around whether or not they should be taken down that have been a part of mainstream public conversation for years.
In Tennessee, there have been many calls to take down a statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a former KKK Leader and Confederate soldier, that has been in the capitol building of Nashville for over 40 years. While shocking that a statue honoring a bigot would be put up in the 1980’s, it shows just how complicated and complex the debates around these statues can be: after all, the vast majority of them were put up decades, or even hundreds of years, after the Civil War ended. Even Taylor Swift, who, despite being publicly apolitical for years and years, called for the statue of Forrest to be taken down in her home state and for other Confederate and KKK monuments to also be destroyed.
But one lawmaker, Republican State Representative Jeremy Faison, had a better idea than just taking down the statue. He suggested it be replaced with one of Nashville’s most iconic forces of music and nature: Dolly Parton. “If you want to preserve history, then let’s tell it the right way,” he said. “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 someone like Dolly Parton being put in that alcove?”
After all, Parton isn’t just a gifted songwriter and singer. She’s also a recent Peabody Award winner, runs several charities, and is truly known as America’s sweetheart. Putting a statue of her, rather than someone who was a KKK leader, in the Capitol building would honor Nashville’s connection to country music, and help highlight the history of Nashville that is built on love and kindness, not hate.