The Tennessee House of Representatives could soon vote on an issue with huge significance to country fans — whether or not to install a statue of Dolly Parton in the state capitol.
In a bill put forward January 12 by Democratic Representative John Mark Windle, the lawmaker suggests installing a statue of Parton on capitol grounds in Nashville. If passed, the Country Hall of Fame member and Tennessee native would be enshrined for all to enjoy, celebrating a life of music and philanthropy.
According to reporting by the Associated Press, the potential statue would be funded by donations and grants — not taxpayer dollars — and lawmakers could ask for community input on its design and placement. Windle suggests having the artwork face the nearby Ryman Auditorium, which is famously known as the Mother Church of Country Music.
With a long resume of giving back to her home state, Parton has had a huge and positive impact on Tennessee over the years. She’s founded the Imagination Library (which mails free books to children across the world), she employs thousands at her Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and much more — including her million-dollar donation to Vanderbilt University that helped develop the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in 2020. She’s also a strong advocate for the rights of women, the LGBTQ+ community and more, and Windle says the icon would celebrate the best Tennessee has to offer.
“At this point in history, is there a better example, not just in America but in the world, of a leader that is (a) kind, decent, passionate human being?” he explained. ”(She’s) a passionate person who loves everyone, and everyone loves her.”
The idea was first brought up last year, when supporters suggested replacing statues of Confederate officers on capitol grounds with one of Dolly Parton instead. A petition online gathered thousands of signatures to do so, but the bill put forward by Representative Windle does not include language about replacing the current statues.