TN country legend declines statue

by nina benich, staff writer
Photo courtesy of Creative Common
Famous country singer, activist and philanthropist Dolly Parton was offered a commemorative statue in front
of the Tennessee state capitol. While thankful for the offer, Parton declined the proposed statuous monument.

Dolly Parton took to social media calling on the Tennessee legislature to halt a bill that would place a statue of her on Nashville’s Capitol grounds, on Feb. 18, 

Fans of the acclaimed country singer were surprised to see the post, which consisted of a brief explanation of Parton’s decision to request the removal of the bill. 

“Given all that is going on in the world, I don’t think putting me on a pedestal is appropriate at this time,” it read. “I hope, though, that somewhere down the road several years from now or perhaps after I’m gone if you still feel I deserve it, then I’m certain I will stand proud in our great State Capitol as a grateful Tennessean.” 

Despite popular support for the statue, Parton received praise for her response. 

Talk of the bill was widespread after lawmakers began considering the removal of several Confederate statues located throughout Tennessee. State Rep. Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby) considered Parton the best possible replacement for the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue currently on display in front of the Tennessee Capitol. 

The bill was proposed in January by Rep. John Mark Windle (D-Livingston) who sought to honor Parton “for all that she has contributed to this state.” 

Parton is a Tennessee native whose music career launched in Nashville, and the statue was planned to face Ryman Auditorium, a popular venue where she has performed numerous times. The bill would also launch the “Dolly Parton Fund,” which would raise money through donations received by the state to pay for the statue and its maintenance. 

This would also be the second statue erected in Tennessee in honor of the singer, the other being in her hometown, Sevierville. A mural of Parton, created in August of last year, is located outside a Nashville music club, displaying a painting of her and a quote reflecting her support for Black Lives Matter movement. 

The bill served as a nod to Parton’s philanthropy, shown recently through a donation of $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center towards the COVID-19 vaccine development. 

Parton has participated in various other forms of charity work since the beginning of her career, such as the Dollywood Foundation for the decrease of high school dropout rates and the My People Fund, which provided relief for the 2016 East Tennessee wildfires. 

The singer also founded the Imagination Library, a program that gifts free books to children ages 5 and under. These books cater to the reading level of the children. Today, the program has almost two million children registered and has donated over 150 million books. 

She recently established a Women’s Services Center in LeConte Medical Center, which is located in her hometown and provides sources of medical and therapeutic aid for women. 

This is not the first time that Parton has turned down significant praise. She recently revealed that she twice declined the Presidential Medal of Freedom from the Trump administration, partly due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. 

She later stated that she would hesitate to accept the third offer due to her avid rejection of politics.

The bill to approve the statue is still in consideration and will be presented next week, although Tennesseans are now pledging to respect Parton’s wishes.