Published January 14, 2021
Nashville, TN – On the first day of the convening of the Tennessee Legislature for the 2021 Legislative Session, a representative from Livingston has introduced a bill to add a statue of Dolly Parton to the Capitol grounds in Nashville.
Democrat Representative John Mark Windle, who represents Fentress, Morgan and Overton counties, introduced House Bill 135 on Tuesday, with the aim of honoring the country music singer, born at Pittman Center in Sevier County, Tennessee.
A portion of the bill states “the state capitol commission, at regularly scheduled meetings, shall develop and implement a plan for the commissioning of a statue of Dolly Parton, to recognize her for all that she has contributed to this state.”
Should the statue be approved, it will be located on the Capitol grounds, facing the direction of Ryman Auditorium.
Windle stated that the commission would ask for input from the public and “other interested parties” to develop the plan, including the statue design.
The bill states that an account would be created in the state general fund, dubbed “the Dolly Parton Fund,” to be used for the design, construction and installation of the statue.
The Dolly Parton fund would be financed by gifts, grants and other donations from within the state and from other non-state sources.
During the controversy over Confederate statues in Tennessee last year, a statue of Dolly Parton was discussed as an alternative to the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest at the Capitol.
A statue of Dolly Parton was previously discussed as an alternative to the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest inside the Capitol.
Nathan Bedford Forrest, from Chapel Hill, was a prominent Confederate Army general during the American Civil War and the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan from 1867 to 1869.
Change.org sponsored the petition, not only to replace the Forrest statue with one of Parton, but all of the Confederate statues with ones featuring her likeness.
The petition stated, “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…Let’s replace the statues of men who sought to tear this country apart with a monument to the woman who has worked her entire life to bring us closer together.”
The petition garnered thousands of signatures but gained no movement from Tennessee lawmakers last year.
In October of last year, the Hamilton County Commission received a petition started by UTC Professor Betsy Darken to remove the statue of General A.P. Stewart from the Courthouse.
In the 1,100-signature petition, Dr. Darken called General A.P. Stewart “divisive and exclusive”.
Hamilton County’s District 8 Commissioner Tim Boyd called for removal of all monuments at the Hamilton County Courthouse rather than just removing the one causing offense.
“I think we should relocate all four of the plaques and monuments at the courthouse, and we should prevent there ever being any more monuments at the county courthouse,” Boyd said, “I just think we need to remove them the right way, and we need to make sure nothing else ever goes in their place.”
However, The Tennessee Heritage Protection Act protects statues like Stewart’s and Forrest’s from being removed unless the Tennessee Historical Commission grants a waiver.
For the removal of the Forrest statue in Nashville, the approval process with the Tennessee Historical Commission will likely have to be followed so it could still be a time before we see the Country Star’s likeness gracing our Capitol.