As protests continue across the U.S. in response to the murders of Black Americans, numerous statues and monuments linked to racism or oppression have either been removed by officials or taken a hit by protestors. In Tennessee, as in many other states, residents are currently asking for the removal of several Confederate statues. Some folks are even going as far as to ask for these statues to be replaced with one particular Tennessee icon: Dolly Parton.
A petition circulating on Change.org started by user Alex Parson asks that all Confederate statues in the state be replaced with Dolly Parton statues. The petition, which has almost met its signature goal of 15,000, will be sent to Governor Bill Lee, the Tennessee State House, and the Tennessee State Senate. Parson explains that the state is littered with monuments exalting Confederate officers, noting that "history should not be forgotten, but we need not glamorize those who do not deserve our praise." He suggests that the state swap out these statues in order to "honor a true Tennessee hero," Ms. Dolly Parton. As you may already know, the 74-year-old country singer was born and raised in Tennessee and still currently resides in the state. Tennessee is also home to her highly popular amusement park, Dollywood.
The petition goes on to explain why Parton is the perfect candidate: Parson notes that over the years, Parton has given millions of dollars to charities and organizations alike. Not only that, but her own foundation, the Dollywood Foundation, has provided books and scholarships to millions of American children. Most recently, the crooner donated $1 million to coronavirus research and started reading virtual bedtime stories to kids during the pandemic. "Dolly Parton has given more to this country and this state than those confederate officers could ever have hoped to take away," the petition reads.
Many folks praised the idea in the petition's comment section. One user wrote "We need more statues of female trailblazers. And Dolly Parton is an incredible person!" Another added, "As a direct descendant of a Confederate general, I feel it's time for a change. We need to put racism behind us." While many seem enthusiastic about the idea, the fate of the statues ultimately lie in the hands of the Tennessee government. Let's hope they're bigger fans of Jolene than the Confederacy.
Want to learn more about statue removal? Read this preservationist's guide here.
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