The city of Franklin is expected to hold a public hearing in November for the public to weigh in on a new statue that will be placed in the Public Square in downtown.
The statue, which will depict a member of the United States Colored Troops, is part of The Fuller Story, an initiative to add more context about Black history in the area, and was approved in 2019 by the Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
The Franklin Public Arts Commission and the Franklin Historic Zoning Commission have both had the opportunity to provide feedback on the statue, according to City Administrator Eric Stuckey.
The hearing is expected to be held during one of the city’s November meetings, either Nov. 10 or 24.
Organizers with The Fuller Story spoke about the statue during the BOMA work session Oct. 13.
“We’ve come a long way. We’re excited about this opportunity and bringing this to fruition,” The Fuller Story co-founder Hewitt Sawyers said. “We’ve looked to this day with plenty of excitement, and now, it’s here, so we’re very excited about it.”
Stuckey said a mock-up of the statue will be completed before the public hearing to give residents time to review the statue.
Eric Jacobson, another representative for The Fuller Story, said work on the mock-up is underway and is expected to be completed soon.
“We want to be able to have this visual component not only for [the BOMA] to see but also the public,” Jacobson said. “We think that’s really as important as anything, that people will see what the statue actually will be in the Public Square.”
Jacobson said the organization is aiming to have the statue unveiled on Juneteenth, a holiday that marks the end of slavery in the U.S.
Alderperson Brandy Blanton spoke in support of the project during the work session.
“In light of all that’s changed in our world before this was even introduced, it’s immensely rewarding for Franklin to have this type of stance in the divided world that we live in and receive so much buy-in,” Blanton said. “I often talk, and I think we all do, on how we are leaders on so many forefronts, but this is one that’s just extra special to bring our community together and recognize both sides of the story.”
Additionally, tourism leaders in the area also spoke in support of the statue. Matthew Maxey, associate director of public relations for Visit Franklin, spoke about the positive attention The Fuller Story project has already brought to the area.
“From the prospective of tourism, The Fuller Story project as a whole has shown itself to be a draw on its own for visitors to Franklin, even in just the relatively short time we’ve had to share it with visitors so far,” Maxey said. “The addition of the USCT statue will continue to enhance that importance of the story further and continue to appeal to visitors drawn to learning about the history in Franklin.”
Franklin to hold public hearing on U.S. Colored Troops statue in November
The city of Franklin erected markers with information about African American history in 2019. (Community Impact staff)