Tennessee Lawmaker Wants a Dolly Parton Statue at State Capitol
A Dolly Parton statue may soon sit at Tennessee's state capitol in Nashville. A state lawmaker proposed the addition to capitol grounds in a bill on Tuesday (Jan. 12).
Rep. John Mark Windle, a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives, is responsible for the bill, the Associated Press reports. The statue would celebrate Parton's contributions to her home state, including the Imagination Library, Dollywood, and most recently, a $1 million donation to Vanderbilt University's COVID-19 research that assisted in the development of the Moderna vaccine, one of two now being used in the United States.
"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?" says Windle, calling Parton "a passionate person who loves everyone, and everyone loves her."
Should Windle's bill be passed, the statue of Parton would be funded via donations, grants and gifts rather than taxpayer money. Lawmakers would also ask for community input on the statue's design and placement, though Windle has suggested that it face the Ryman Auditorium, which is located a few blocks southeast of the capitol.
While Parton has remained a beloved star since her career began decades ago, she spent much of 2020 in a particularly bright spotlight, thanks not only to her Vanderbilt donation but also because of a new Christmas album, Netflix movie and television special, and pro-Black Lives Matter comments she made during an interview with Billboard. Over the summer, a petition to replace Tennessee's Confederate monuments with statues of Parton garnered thousands of signatures.
Parton's charitable endeavors also include donations to Vanderbilt's children's hospital, the LeConte Medical Center in Parton's hometown of Sevierville, and a fund for victims of the 2016 wildfires in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. The Grand Ole Opry member and Country Music Hall of Famer was recognized in 2019 as MusiCares' Person of the Year -- the first country artist to ever receive the honor, which recognizes artists' philanthropic efforts.
A Look at Dolly Parton's Biggest Charitable Endeavors: