Emily West, Nashville Tennessean, September 25, 2018
After a month of waiting, Franklin aldermen levied their full support behind a plan to place historic markers about African-America history on public property in downtown.
The board voted unanimously on Tuesday evening to approve the use of public land for the project, which is funded by nonprofit the Fuller Story.
Whether the city of Franklin fully owns the public square remains undecided. The Daughters of the Confederacy Chapter 14 threatened to sue if the markers were placed on the public square next to its monument of a Confederate solider.
Doug Jones, legal representative for The Daughters of the Confederacy, has yet to file a response to the city’s argument that it owns the square. But in response to the city’s vote, he said he had one comment: “We will see you in court.”
Letters of support for historic markers
Several Franklin residents wrote to city leaders to show their support for the project.
The Williamson County Convention and Visitors Bureau along with the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County also voiced their desire to see the project completed. Both said the efforts were needed for a more robust explanation of Franklin’s history.
“The Heritage Foundation supports telling the complete story of the African-American experience in Franklin and Williamson County,” Heritage Foundation CEO Bari Watson Beasley wrote. “In fact, this is one of the key areas in the foundation’s strategic plan that was created several years ago.”
Other historical groups — the city’s battlefield preservation committee and Save the Franklin Battlefield — also support the markers.
About the markers
The group wants four markers on the square to depict African-American history in Williamson County.
Markers would discuss the courthouse and market house, the United States Colored Troops, the 1867 downtown riot and Reconstruction through the Jim Crow era.
Faith and historical leaders also would like to add a statue recognizing the U.S. Colored Troops from Williamson County who served in the Civil War. A location for that statue hasn’t been identified.
The group wants to have the markers up by 2019 and unveil them on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.