Located in the southern state of Tennessee, the City of Franklin decided it needed to address the legacy of its past as it relates to slavery, the Civil War and segregation.
Since 1899, Franklin’s Public Square has been home to a monument honoring Confederate soldiers who fought in the Civil War. Seeking to avoid racial conflicts such as those in Charlottesville, Virginia, and to be more inclusive of the entire community, Franklin came together to address the divisive issue. Earlier conversations about the monument had drawn criticism from both those wishing to see it remain and those hoping for its removal. In 2018, several local leaders worked closely with the city to develop The Fuller Story, an initiative to deal with Franklin’s past, including the controversial Civil War statue.
Where the statue stands marks the spot where the old courthouse once stood and where African Americans were bought and sold in a slave market. After several conversations with stakeholders, elected officials and residents, a compromise was reached that two African American history markers would be placed on the sidewalk circling the statue. Three additional markers and a U.S. Colored Troops (USCT)* statue will go on the Public Square near the historic courthouse.
The new markers were unveiled as hundreds gathered reverently on the Public Square. The markers represent the Franklin Riot of 1867, U.S. Colored Troops (USCT), Reconstruction, the Courthouse/Market House, and The Battle of Franklin.
In a separate effort, a local battlefield preservation group erected a headstone to honor those who died while enslaved. The stone makes note of those who came to Tennessee from Africa, only to be enslaved until the Civil War’s end.
*This was the official name of black soldiers fighting for the Union during the Civil War. The original name is being included for historical accuracy.