While a petition has collected over 16,000 signatures, not everyone is convinced a statue of Parton is the best idea.

By Rachel Yang
June 17, 2020 at 01:29 AM EDT
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Mark Seliger/ABC via Getty Images

Dolly Parton is one of the few universally beloved figures in pop culture, and as a native Tennessean still with deep roots in the state, it makes sense that fans have petitioned for the music legend to replace a controversial Confederate statue in the state famous for its country music.

An online petition, which has garnered 16,000 signatures and counting, calls for the state's officials to honor "a true Tennessee hero, Dolly Parton."

“Tennessee is littered with statues memorializing Confederate officers,” the Change.org page reads. “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.”

In December, a Republican legislator backed the idea, saying the singer would be a fitting replacement for a statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest that sits in the Tennessee Statehouse. Forrest was a Confederate general, slave trader, and KKK leader.

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

Many celebrities, including prominent Tennessee residents like Taylor Swift and Reese Witherspoon, have called to remove Forrest's statue. Sen. Ted Cruz and Henry Winkler are also among those supporting the movement.

Fans have long admired Parton not only for her impact on music but also for her charitable efforts. Parton's famous Imagination Library program has delivered more than 100 million books to children in the U.S. She's also donated money to causes related to HIV/AIDS, cancer, wildlife conservation, and, more recently, COVID-19 research.

Parton already has a monument of her likeness — in 1987, her hometown of Sevierville, Tenn., erected a statue of the singer holding a guitar in front of its courthouse.

Despite the support for a Parton statue, some have said that if officials want to denounce racist and anti-black figures, new monuments should focus on noteworthy black individuals.

"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?" one person commented.

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Parton has not publicly commented on the statue idea.

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