Those who led the way to create what has become known as the “fuller story” revealed a couple of fuller surprises Thursday morning during the unveiling of historic markers on the Franklin town square that commemorate the African American experience during the Civil War and the Battle of Franklin.
Hosted by the city of Franklin and the Battle of Franklin Trust, the ceremony was held in front of the historic Williamson County Courthouse, where three of the markers had been installed and were ready for their unveiling. According to the stated plan for the event — and as it was listed in the ceremony’s program — two additional markers would be installed and unveiled at a later date on the interior of the town square near where the Confederate monument stands.
But things didn’t go as planned.
“And now,” said Eric Stuckey, CEO for the BOFT and one of the founders of the fuller story, “I’d like to announce some late-breaking news. We were going to unveil only three markers today, [but] we’re going to unveil all five.”
The general thinking had been that the installation of the two markers on the square was being held up while a case between the city of Franklin and the United Daughters of the Confederacy remains tied up in court. Franklin filed a lawsuit against the UDC to lay its claim of ownership of the land where the Confederate monument stands.
“Basically, we own the square,” Franklin City Administrator Eric Stuckey said. “We’ve been holding festivals there; putting the Christmas tree up; we put in new irrigation and lighting just this year. So we’ve been acting like the owner. The board told us to put the markers up, and that’s what we’re doing. This is consistent with that ownership and the action we’ve shown for decades.
“It was beautiful to see the crowd that came,” Stuckey added. “It was such a great gathering and cross-section of our community. it was inspirational to look out on that group of people.”
The section of the town square facing the courthouse was full of a diverse group of people who came for the historic unveiling of the markers. In addition to Jacobson, the other fuller story architects speaking at the event were Rev. Kevin Riggs of Franklin Community Church, Rev. Chris Williamson of Strong Tower Bible Church and Rev. Hewitt Sawyers of West Harpeth Primitive Baptist Church, who closed the program with the prayer of dedication. Also speaking were Stuckey and Franklin Mayor Ken Moore.
The New Hope Academy choir sang “Amazing Grace” and “America the Beautiful,” and Charlene Harrison sang “Go Down Moses.”
“I stand here today to let you know that Franklin, Tennessee, will be known for being the birthplace of the fuller story,” Williamson said to the crowd. “Therefore, I declare and decree that Oct. 17, 2019, is truly a day of redemption. [It is] a day of recognition, it is a day of remembrance. It is a day of representation, and thanks be to God, it is a day of rejoicing.”
The markers on the square tell of the Franklin riot of 1867, the U.S. Colored Troops, Reconstruction, the courthouse and market house, and the Battle of Franklin.
The day also helped set into motion fundraising for the statue of a USCT that will stand adjacent to the marker, with a cost estimated at $150,000. Visit www.boft.org to donate.