FRANKLIN, Tenn. (OSBORNE) -- The City of Franklin will place new historical markers next to the city’s Confederate monument, even though a lawsuit to determine who owns the town square property the statue stands on remains unresolved.
The Daughters of the Confederacy erected the monument in 1899 to honor the more than 1700 Confederate soldiers who died during the 1864 Battle of Franklin.
Following the 2017 white supremacist riots in Charlottesville, mid-state activists launched an effort to remove the Franklin statue or add markers with additional context. Their hope was to tell what supporters described as a fuller story about slavery, the war, and the Jim Crowe Era that followed.
But the Daughters of the Confederacy immediately threatened to sue, asserting they owned the square property and would not allow changes. Doug Jones is their attorney
“Slavery is horrible… and we don’t need to forget that. …But the little piece of ground that we claim we own, that’s about dedication for the memory of those boys that fought at Franklin.”
Pastor Chris Williamson is a leading voice of the so-called “fuller story” movement. He says advocates quickly abandoned the idea of removing the statue in favor of adding to the story told there.
“What we wanted was equal footing if you will, a place of equal nobility, to tell other stories that haven’t been told. Stories that will bring the community together as well as bring knowledge of the past.”
Even though a lawsuit over square ownership remains unheard, the Franklin City Council voted unanimously last week to move ahead with placing new historical markers near the Confederate memorial. Still more markers and the statue of black Union solider will be erected near the County Courthouse.
Money for the markers has already been raised. The $75,000 plus needed to create the new statue is being sought now, as is an artist to sculpt the piece. Supporters hope to find the living mid-state descendant of a fomer black Union Civil War soldier to serve as a model for the sculpture.
Use the links below to listen to the complete WMOT interviews with Doug Jones and Pastor Williamson.