Mr. Sawyers and like-minded residents did not get the statue removed, but they have come up with a provocative response to it: a new bronze statue in Franklin’s public square depicting a life-size soldier from the U.S. Colored Troops, largely Black regiments that were recruited for the U.S. Army during the Civil War.
The new monument, which was unveiled Saturday before a crowd of hundreds, and five recently added markers tell the story of the market house where enslaved people were auctioned and the role that local Black men played in fighting for their freedom. Dubbed the Fuller Story, the four-year project led by Mr. Sawyers and three other local residents expanded the narrative of why and how the war was fought.
“Here is a Black man who was enslaved, who gave his life to go out to help free other people,” Mr. Sawyers said. “To be standing here, now, in the face of a statue that represents enslaving those people and to know that, because he was willing to do that, we won — what a powerful message.”