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Jun 16, 2020
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A petition is calling for Tennessee to replace statues and memorials of Confederate generals with the trailblazing performer.

As calls grow to rid the nation of Confederate memorials, another movement is rising to replace them with the likeness of an icon many feel represents the opposite of hatred and oppression: Dolly Parton.

An online petition asking the Tennessee governor and legislators to erect statues of the trailblazing singer-songwriter in place of Confederate soldiers has gathered more than 14,000 signatures and the enthusiastic backing of Parton scholars.

“Tennessee is littered with statues memorializing Confederate officers,” the petition on Change.org says. “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.”

A spokesman for Gov. Bill Lee did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday. But there have been efforts to replace symbols of the Confederacy with Ms. Parton before.

In December, a Republican legislator proposed building a statue of Ms. Parton in place of a statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a former Confederate general, slave trader and leader of the Ku Klux Klan, that looms prominently in the Tennessee Statehouse. The statue remains.

Last week, some black legislators left the Capitol in tears and anger after proposals to remove the bust of Forrest and other divisive figures failed.

Academics who have studied the legacy of Ms. Parton, a Tennessean who has supported philanthropic causes like women’s health care, children’s literacy and helping victims of wildfires, said her universal appeal should make the decision to replace Confederate figures with her likeness an easy one.
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