Over the past couple years, Tennesseans have been trying to get a statue removed from their Capitol Building: a bust of Confederate general and Ku Klux Klan co-founder Nathan Bedford Forrest. It’s a lengthy process that involves multiple hearings and approval from more than one commission, which means legislators have had plenty of time to consider who they might want to honor in Forrest’s place.
In late 2019, Republican representative Jeremy Faison suggested Dolly Parton as a suitable replacement. Not only was the country music star born and raised in the Volunteer State, but she still lives there today. Parton has also donated more than 100 million books to children through her Imagination Library organization, helped fund COVID-19 vaccine research, and partaken in other charitable causes that make her a worthy candidate for a statue.
Forrest’s bust has yet to move, but Tennesseans could be getting a stone likeness of Parton elsewhere on Capitol Hill. Last month, Democratic representative John Mark Windle introduced a bill [PDF] calling for a Parton statue to be erected on Capitol grounds facing the Ryman Auditorium—the birthplace of the Grand Ole Opry, of which Parton has been a member for more than half a century.
And on February 9, the House Committee for Naming and Designating unanimously voted to pass that bill.
“Dolly Parton is a kind, decent, caring, compassionate person,” Windle, committee chair, told WKRN. “Her impact has been much greater than a politician or a stateswoman or statesman, and we ought to honor her while we still have her.”
While the committee’s unanimous, bipartisan decision bodes well for the bill’s future, Tennessee’s House and Senate will also need to vote on the matter, as will the local government.