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Instead of removing the Confederate statue, the city of Tennessee is erecting a new statue to Union black soldiers

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A Tennessee city has erected a monument to black former slaves who fought in the Civil War after calls to remove the Confederate monument from the city met resistance.

The new statue honoring members of the American Colored Forces, an isolated part of the Union military during the Civil War, was unveiled Saturday in Franklin’s historic town square.

It faces a 37-foot Confederate monument erected in 1899 known as “Chip,” which has been facing calls for its removal for years. However, the city does not own the Confederate monument and says it cannot legally remove it.

The new statue, designed by sculptor Joe Howard, shows a USCT soldier standing at eye level so viewers can see his wisdom, Pastor Chris Williamson said at the unveiling, according to The Tennessean.

In Franklin’s historic town square, a new statue was unveiled Saturday honoring members of the American Colored Forces, an isolated part of the Union military during the Civil War.

It faces a 37-foot (top) Confederate monument erected in 1899 known as 'Chip', which for years has been the target of petitions calling for its removal

It faces a 37-foot (top) Confederate monument erected in 1899 known as ‘Chip’, which for years has been the target of petitions calling for its removal

Sculptor Joe Howard shakes hands with people who came to watch Saturday's unveiling of his statue honoring black enslaved men who enlisted in the US Colored Forces

Sculptor Joe Howard shakes hands with people who came to watch Saturday’s unveiling of his statue honoring black enslaved men who enlisted in the US Colored Forces

Located in Williamson County in central Tennessee, Franklin was the site of the Battle of Franklin in 1864, a major turning point in the Civil War and one of the worst defeats of the Confederacy.

The area is now a thriving hub for major corporations, including Nissan’s North American headquarters and many of the tourist centers on Civil War monuments.

But, concerned that the full history of the Civil War was not told, the new statue along with five historical markers was added as part of a project called The fuller story.

The four-year project was led by Baptist minister Hewitt Sawyers and three other local residents, culminating in Saturday’s unveiling of the statue, an event attended by hundreds.

“Here’s a black man who was enslaved, who gave his life to go out to free other people,” Sawyers told the paper. New York Times of the new statue.

“To stand here, now, in front of a statue representing the enslavement of those people and to know that because he was willing to do that, we won – what a powerful message,” he added. .

Hundreds gather for the unveiling of the historic statue of the American Colored Troop Soldier in Franklin, honoring black enslaved men who enlisted and served in the Civil War

Hundreds gather for the unveiling of the historic statue of the American Colored Troop Soldier in Franklin, honoring black enslaved men who enlisted and served in the Civil War

Sculptor Joe Frank Howard gets emotional as he comments on unveiling

Sculptor Joe Frank Howard gets emotional as he comments on unveiling

The statue was commissioned by The Fuller Story Project in Franklin to create a monument commemorating black Civil War soldiers serving in the Union army

The statue was commissioned by The Fuller Story Project in Franklin to create a monument commemorating black Civil War soldiers serving in the Union army

Sawyers said during a panel discussion Thursday that he had avoided downtown Franklin since childhood because it meant seeing the Confederate statue.

He had believed the statue should come down, but said conversations with community members with a passion for local Civil War history “changed my heart about that.”

“It’s not a statue of Robert E. Lee or anything, it just says that Confederate soldiers were killed, and it only gives them credit for fighting in a war,” Sawyers said.

According to the AP, the CEO of Battle of Franklin Trust, Eric Jacobson, who is white, initially came up with the idea of ​​the Fuller Story project.

An estimated 170,000 African Americans joined the Union Army from across the country, and some 300 are said to have ties to Williamson County.

For years, some Franklin residents have expressed concern about the towering “Chip” monument, which depicts a Confederate soldier in parade rest atop a tall column.

US Colored Troops reenactor Gary Burke stands at attention for statue unveiling

US Colored Troops reenactor Gary Burke stands at attention for statue unveiling

Attendees gather around historic statue of US Colored Troops Soldier after unveiling

Audiences gather around the historic statue of the American Colored Troop Soldier after an unveiling

Ebony Moore cries at the unveiling of the new statue Saturday in Franklin, Tennessee

Ebony Moore cries at the unveiling of the new statue Saturday in Franklin, Tennessee

The monument was erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy in honor of the Confederate troops who died in the Battle of Franklin. The private group still owns the monument, but it has been restored several times at the expense of the city.

Following a restoration of the Confederate monument in 2010, then-Mayor John Schroer declared the statue “an important piece of the city of Franklin.”

In 2017, following the deadly right-wing rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, protesting the removal of a Confederate monument, a petition circulated calling for the Chip statue’s removal.

A competing petition called for the statue to remain, and both collected thousands of signatures.

At the time, Franklin’s city administrator said state law prohibited removing the statue without permission from the Tennessee Historical Commission. The matter is still pending in the courts.

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