Black soldier statue planned for Franklin to tell ‘painful story of redemption’

Local News

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WKRN) — The city of Franklin will be adding a monument downtown honoring African Americans and how they shaped the city. It’s not replacing Confederate history, but facing it.

Debate over racism, injustice, and change is sweeping the country and the local community, and calls to remove statues are included. In Franklin, at the moment it’s not what’s leaving, but what you’ll soon see added.

“It’s very intentional that is human scale, that you can really look the soldier in the eye,” said Eric Stuckey.

It’s not in place yet, but coming is a life-size statue of a black soldier. It will sit by the courthouse, facing the square’s Confederate statue, in place downtown since 1899.

The intent is to tell a fuller story, said city administrator Eric Stuckey.

Part of that story is painful but later redemptive.

“These markers help tell the story that slaves were bought and sold in the town square,” said Stuckey, “But they also tell the story of African American families that became critical in the community, critical to building our community after the civil war.”

As part of the effort, five markers were added last Fall surrounding the Confederate statue. They provide context and honor black soldiers’ contribution to the Civil War.

The new statue should be in place next summer.

The future of other symbols in Williamson County is not as clear. The Confederate flag remains prominent on the county seal.

On Friday, county Democrats called for the seal to be retired immediately. Just last month, leaders created a task force to consider changing it partly in response to a petition started by Dustin Koctar. 

“As a white person I think it’s my responsibility,” said Koctar, “It’s a responsibility to join with black people who are already advocating for this, beating the drum on this, challenging racist systems, standing up against injustice and discrimination for decades.”

As it stands now, for anything to happen, the county commission must ask the Tennessee Historical Commission to address it. A two-thirds vote in favor of change is then required.

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of community unrest across Middle Tennessee:

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