Petition Seeks to Replace Tennessee's Confederate Monuments With Dolly Parton Statues

Dolly Parton holds the Tex Ritter award in the press room at the 51st annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, April 3, 2016, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

As of June 15, a popular petition to replace statues in Tennessee of Confederate officers and slave owners with the likeness of Dolly Parton has over 5,000 signatures.

Alex Parsons started the petition, which challenges Governor Bill Lee and the Tennessee House and Senate to remove such contentious statues as the state Capitol in Nashville's bust of former KKK grand wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest.

"While the idea of replacing all of those monuments with Dolly Parton may seem funny, the history of those monuments is anything but," Parson wrote in a June 14 update to the campaign.

Even if Parsons and his supporters do not realistically expect statues of Parton to replace every single Confederate monument, the country legend's role in this is to represent a "true Tennessee hero" who "has worked her entire life to bring us closer together."

"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," reads the campaign's description. "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."

Dr. Charles Hughes, a music scholar at Rhodes College in Memphis, offers a different view on which historic figures best deserve commemoration.

"Nothing at all against Parton, but replacing bad white people with better white people is a half-measure at best," he wrote in a June 14 Tweet. "There is no better moment to honor the legacies of Black Tennesseans, specifically, and anything else feels like a dodge."

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At least one Republican Representative in Tennessee is open to having more than just statues of men at his place of work.

"My daughter is 16, and I would love for her to come into the Capitol and see a lady up there," Faison told the Tennessean. "What's wrong with Anne Dallas Dudley getting in that alcove?"

Dudley was a key player in the American suffragist movement.

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Petition Seeks to Replace Tennessee's Confederate Monuments With Dolly Parton Statues