USCT marker

A marker with information on the United States Colored Troop soldiers stands on the Franklin Public Square where a statue of a USTC soldier will be unveiled June 19 during a Juneteenth celebration.

Three entities in Franklin are partnering to unveil and dedicate a bronze statue of a United States Colored Troops soldier in front of the Historic Courthouse for the final phase of the Fuller Story initiative Saturday, June 19.

The Franklin Justice & Equity Coalition is working with the Fuller Story group and the city of Franklin to begin celebrating Juneteenth with a gala and community awards ceremony at the Eastern Flank June 18, the night before the inaugural festival on the Franklin Public Square.

“Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, and we’re honored to bring this celebration to life in Franklin,” Pastor Walter Simmons, co-founder of the FJEC, said in a press release. “This is a community effort, and we invite the entire community to join us as we make history together.”

In addition to the FJEC, the Fuller Story nonprofit and the city of Franklin, several others are joining to celebrate the installation, unveiling and dedication of the newly placed USCT bronze soldier statue in the area designated and approved by the Franklin Board of Mayor and Aldermen and the city’s Art Commission. These are Williamson County government, the county historian, the state historian, local churches, the African American Heritage Society, Williamson Inc., the Civil War Commission, the Battle of Franklin Trust, and other individuals and organizations.

Chris Williamson, pastor at Strong Tower Bible Church and a founding member of the Fuller Story, said he is elated that years of hard work are coming to fruition.

“This statue, which will stand in front of the Historic Courthouse, serves as a representation of the almost 200,000 formerly enslaved men who fought as United States soldiers,” he said. "In addition, it specifically depicts the greater than 300 men that broke bondage in Williamson County to enlist, serve and fight through the regiment of the USCT.”

Following the dedication will be a time of celebration in the festive spirit of Juneteenth, according to the press release. There will be music, entertainment, food, vendors, prizes and awards given.

Juneteenth event schedule

  • FJEC Juneteenth Gala and Awards Ceremony: 6-10 p.m., Friday, June, at the Eastern Flank
  • USCT Statue Dedication: 10-11 a.m., Saturday, June 19, at the Franklin Public Square
  • Community Juneteenth Festival: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, June 19, at the Franklin Public Square.

Sponsorship and vendor opportunities are available. For more information, email [email protected].

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The Franklin Justice & Equity Coalition was created in 2020 after the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. The FJEC formed in order to see justice and equity flourish for all people in Franklin and Williamson County by leading, teaching, supporting and holding public officials accountable in doing their jobs with fairness and consistency.

The Fuller Story was formed in 2018 through a partnership between three pastors and a historian — Williamson,Pastor Kevin Riggs from Franklin Community Church, Pastor Hewitt Sawyers from West Harpeth Primitive Baptist Church, and Battle of Franklin Trust CEO Eric Jacobson.