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Dolly Parton Says Thanks But No Thanks to Statue at Tennessee Capitol

Chris Willman
·4 min read
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Dolly Parton took to social media Thursday to declare that she doesn’t want the Tennessee legislature to approve putting up a statue of her at the state capitol… probably one of the few conceivable things that could have united lawmakers from different sides of the aisle in the current political climate.

“I want to thank the Tennessee legislature for their consideration of a bill to erect a statue of me on the Capitol grounds,” she wrote. “I am honored and humbled by their intention,” she continued — but not that humbled, necessarily, by the governing body’s attempt to come up with some feel-good legislation amid all of its famously divisive and controversial bills.

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The country-pop superstar said that she has “asked the leaders of the state legislature to remove the bill from any and all consideration. With all that is going on in the world, I don’t think that putting me on a pedestal is appropriate at this time.”

❤️ pic.twitter.com/qD9yGODWtT— Dolly Parton (@DollyParton) February 18, 2021

Enshrining Parton at the Capitol had been talked about for years, and the idea especially picked up steam when the possible removal of statues of famous Confederates from the Capitol became a flashpoint for debate in recent years, with some saying the biggest star ever to come out of Tennessee would be a good candidate to go up in their stead.

A bill was introduced in January by Rep. John Windle (D-Livingston) that would create a “Dolly Parton fund” and entrust the State Capitol Commission with developing a plan for placing a Parton statue. The bill was scheduled to go up for consideration Tuesday before the House state government committee.

Parton left the door open for the prospect to be removed at some point in the future… like, when she doesn’t have to show up for it or be conscious of how she might be used as a political football.

“I hope, though, that somewhere down the road several years from now or perhaps after I’m gone if you still feel I deserve it, then I’m certain I will stand proud in our great State Capitol as a grateful Tennessean. In the meantime, I’ll continue to try to do good work to make this great state proud.”

Although it was unspoken, Parton may have an interest in having tourists who want to take a picture with a bronze Dolly being diverted to eastern Tennessee, a region she has long worked to promote as a destination. A statue of Parton already stands outside the county courthouse in downtown Sevierville, Tennessee, where she was born in 1946.

It’s not the only possible honor from politicos that Parton has turned down recently. The singer recently noted that she’d had to turn down two offers to receive the presidential medal of freedom from Donald J. Trump and indicated that she might have to nix a similar offer that Joe Biden has suggested would be coming, just so it doesn’t look like she’s playing favorites.

Back in Tennessee, the Confederates may be hitting the road with or without the prospect of a monument to Parton replacing them. The Capitol Commission voted to remove a contentious bust of Confederate general and KKK leader Nathan Bedford Forrest, although the move has yet to go before the Tennessee Historical Commission.

The bill to approve a Parton statue is still scheduled to be considered next week, although it’s unlikely to get far now with Parton’s explicit disapproval.

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