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If Dolly Parton replaces Confederate monuments, it wouldn’t be her first statue

Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton’s fans are petitioning to get a statue of the country legend in the Tennessee Statehouse.
(Dolly Records)

Dolly Parton’s fans are rallying on social media to get a statue of the beloved country queen to replace old monuments of Confederate and Ku Klux Klan leaders in her native Tennessee. They’ve even launched a Change.org petition that, as of Tuesday afternoon, has already amassed 15,000 signatures and counting.

Many are calling for a statue of Confederate general and early KKK leader Nathan Bedford Forrest, which has resided in the state’s capitol building for more than 40 years, to come down in favor of a Parton monument.

“Tennessee is littered with statues memorializing confederate officers. 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,” the Change.org petition argues.

“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.”

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It turns out Parton, who’s also been a prominent philanthropist, already has at least one statue in her likeness. Her Tennessee hometown of Sevierville erected its Parton tribute, which features the “Jolene” singer-songwriter barefoot and holding a guitar, in front of its courthouse in 1987.

Parton has long been a champion of where she grew up in the Great Smoky Mountains and has promoted tourism to the area with her nearby Dollywood theme park. Her bronze replica in Sevierville has become its own tourist attraction, with fans coming from near and far to pose with it in photos they post on social media.

Even Parton’s late father was a fan of the monument. Parton told Jimmy Kimmel in 2016 about how her father used to get a bucket of soapy water and “scrub all the pigeon poop off” of it late at night. “Isn’t that the sweetest thing?”

The call to replace Confederate monuments in Tennessee with Parton picked up momentum in December, when Republican state Rep. Jeremy Faison suggested the “9 to 5" hitmaker as a potential replacement for Forrest’s bust in the Tennessee Statehouse.

“If we want to preserve history, then let’s tell it the right way,” Faison told the Tennesseean. “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?”

States and cities across the U.S. are removing Confederate statues amid protests over systemic racism and violence and the killing of George Floyd.

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While many Confederate statues are being torn down in the South, Forrest’s will not go down without a fight. In the wake of George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter protests that have spread nationwide, large groups have gathered near Forrest’s bust and called for its removal.

It’s unlikely, however, that Parton will end up replacing it given that the Tennessee Legislature has rejected calls to remove it, even after a recent protest.

Taylor Swift, Reese Witherspoon, and Sen. Ted Cruz are among the high-profile supporters of removing Bedford’s statue.

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As the Change.org petition spikes in popularity, Twitter users are fired up about a Dolly Parton monument too: “Liberals. Conservatives. Agreeing that Dolly Parton is a national treasure worthy of her own statue,” wrote one user.

But another cautioned: “listen i love dolly parton and im sure she’d make a great statue, but ... we should probably replace the confederate statues with statues of Black people first?”


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