African American Heritage Society calls for more context next to Franklin's Confederate monument
The African American Heritage Society of Williamson County has called for more context next to Franklin's Confederate monument.
An announcement came Wednesday after the City of Franklin agreed to settle with the United Daughters of the Confederacy No. 14 - Franklin for a deed saying the group owned the Confederate monument in the town's center. The move to settle came after two years of back and forth filings in court over who owned the public square. With the draft settlement in place, Franklin will own the square and the UDC will own the monument and have documentation with the Register of Deeds office for the first time in 120 years.
With that in place, the African American Heritage Society said it would like to have a bronze marker that explains the origin of the monument, known as Chip with a chunk of the soldier's hat missing at the top of the statue.
"Rather than being allowed to stand in silent commemoration to the Lost Cause, we need to place the Monument in its proper historical context with a prominent permanent bronze marker that thoroughly explains the history behind its origin," the group said in joint statement. "We hold that rather than subtracting monuments, Franklin should add to the stories and memories that Williamson County shares and elevates. This measure would be a start toward making Williamson County’s history complete. It is time that we told the whole story."
The group noted that the Fuller Story — a placard project unveiled in October — helped with the needed storytelling in downtown. By 2021, the Fuller Story group will put up a U.S. Colored Troop statue that will sit in front of the Williamson County Historic Courthouse.
"The Fuller Story’s addition of interpretive panels and forthcoming US Colored Troop statue on and around the Public Square has and will go a long way toward recounting our collective history in general," the AAHS statement said. "Nevertheless, we can and should do more to address the Confederate monument itself, the history it tells and the message it depicts. The motto of the AAHS is that we have 'A Story to Tell.' Every person, building and even monument in the county has a story to tell. But the story of the Confederate Monument has not been fully nor accurately told."
Attorney Doug Jones with the UDC told the The Tennessean prior to the settlement the Confederate group would never remove the monument and that it represented history of soldiers who died in the Battle of Franklin.
About the Fuller Story
Franklin aldermen agreed on a plan to place two African-American history markers in the downtown circle on the sidewalk near the Confederate monument.
The remaining three markers are now near the historic courthouse, and a U.S. Colored Troops statue will go up in the next year. Those at that location talk about reconstruction, U.S. Colored Troops and the riot of 1867.
Markers at the center will tell the story of the market house that sold slaves and explain the Battle of Franklin. They now stand on the concrete portion of the downtown's center.
About the Confederate monument
The Daughters of the Confederacy placed the Confederate soldier statue on the square to remember those who died in the Battle of Franklin.
Around Franklin, the statue's nickname is Chip, after a chunk of the soldier's hat disappeared during his installation.
"In legend and lay, our heroes in gray shall ever live over again for us," part of the inscription reads.
The Daughters of Confederacy spent nearly $2,700 to erect the monument.
Emily West is a reporter for The Tennessean, covering Franklin and Williamson County. Follow her on Twitter at @emwest22 and email her at email@example.com.