Petition launched to replace KKK leader’s statue with Dolly Parton

A monument to former grand wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest sits in the Tennessee Capitol building

A petition has been launched to replace a statue of a former KKK leader with one of Dolly Parton.

The monument to former grand wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest is currently located in the Tennessee Capitol building.

In the wake of the recent Black Lives Matter protests and global conversations about systemic racism, both protestors and authorities have begun taking down statues of Confederate figures and slave owners.

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A petition started by Alex Parsons is calling on the Tennessee State House to remove the statue of Forrest and put a new one of “true Tennessee hero” Parton up in its place. “Tennessee is littered with statues memorialising confederate officers,” Parsons wrote. “History should not be forgotten, but we need not glamorise those who do not deserve our praise.”

They went on to highlight both the musician’s “beautiful music” and “philanthropic heart”, noting the war had “given more to this country and this state than those confederate officers could ever have hoped to take away”.

Parson concluded: “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.” At the time of writing, the petition has 1,143 signatures.

The petition comes after Taylor Swift called on Tennessee authorities to permanently remove statues of Forrest and Edward Carmack, a former Senator for the state and “white supremacist newspaper editor who published pro-lynching editorials and incited the arson of the office of Ida B. Wells”.

“Taking down statues isn’t going to fix centuries of systemic oppression, violence and hatred that black people have had to endure but it might bring us one small step closer to making ALL Tennesseans and visitors to our state feel safe – not just the white ones,” Swift argued. “We need to retroactively change the status of people who perpetuated hideous patterns of racism from ‘heroes’ to ‘villains.’ And villains don’t deserve statues.”

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