Pastor Chris Williamson stood on the historic courthouse steps in the shadow of the Confederate monument feet away from him.
For the last 120 years, the statue has stood at the center of the public’s square where the first courthouse and market house were. Williamson recognized it was a history not everyone knew about, particularly since slaves were once sold in the center of town.
On Thursday morning his feelings shifted, as each of the five Fuller Story markers finally stood in the Franklin public square depicting African American story lines for the first time in the town’s 220 year history. A U.S. Colored Troop statue will go up during the next year.
“Reconciliation doesn’t arrive without truth,” he said. “I stand here today to tell you Franklin is telling the fuller story. Today is a day of redemption. This is why it’s only right for their be these markers and next a statue in equal nobility to the Confederate monument.”
Around 200 residents came out to the unveiling of the Fuller Story, which began in August 2018. Williamson along with two other pastors plus the Battle of Franklin Trust historian brought the project forward to elected leaders.
The four men –– who united together after the riot in Charlottesville, Virginia –– worked with aldermen to determine the word of each sign and its placement around the square. Conversations emerged after a public vigil for the individuals who died and it eventually turned into a movement to better depict Franklin’s own history.
“This is a wonderful day,” Battle of Franklin Trust CEO Eric Jacobson said to the crowd. “This is your history and it belongs to all of us. And some history has been too long ignored. We are not only talking about elements of the past, but we are talking about elements of the truth.”
About the Fuller Story
After concern over placement, Franklin aldermen agreed on a plan to place two African-American history markers in the downtown circle on the sidewalk near the Confederate monument.
The remaining three markers are now near the historic courthouse, and and U.S. Colored Troops statue will go up in the next year. Those at that location talk about reconstruction, U.S. Colored Troops and the riot of 1867.
Markers at the center will tell the story of the market house that sold slaves and explain the Battle of Franklin. They now stand on the concrete portion of the downtown’s center.
Reach Emily West at email@example.com; at 615-613-1380; or on Twitter at @emwest22.
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