Franklin square

City and community leaders came together Wednesday morning to present to judges from the National Civic League why Franklin deserves to be chosen as one of 10 winners in the 2020 All-America City Award.

The City of Franklin was named one of 20 finalists for the award earlier this summer, and the ceremony for the All-America City competition will be streamed on the All-America City Facebook page at 6:30 p.m. The city of Franklin joined with the nonprofit Franklin Tomorrow to submit an application to the National Civic League, and presented its case via Zoom before a panel of judges selected by the NCL.

“We want to focus on a few aspects of Franklin’s story as we work together to build a vibrant, inclusive and caring community,” City Administrator Eric Stuckey said from the town square during the presentation. “Franklin is a historic city, founded in 1799, and the site of a major battle in the American Civil War, and we recognize that the way we talk about our history affects who we are today, but more importantly who we aspire to be in the future.”

In addition to Stuckey, others in the presentation were Franklin Mayor Ken Moore, Franklin Tomorrow Executive Director Mindy Tate, Battle of Franklin Trust CEO Eric Jacobson, Pastor Chris Williamson of Strong Tower Bible Church, and Allena Bell, board president of Franklin Tomorrow.

Much of the presentation focused on Franklin’s initiative to be more inclusive and to take steps toward improved equity, particularly showcasing the Fuller Story that has developed over the past couple of years.

“The Battle of Franklin was really a horrific event that reshaped this community,” said Jacobson, an architect of the Fuller Story along with Williamson and two other pastors. “But for almost 120 years, much of the story right here in the square revolved solely around the Confederate monument, and I and others were aware there was another rich history that deserved to be told. …

“This African American story — enslaved people, free people striving to have their place at the table — we felt was important. We decided to, instead of tearing something down, we wanted to build something up. We felt this was the best path for our town and felt it could be a model for other communities to confront their past and what it means to our future.”

The presentation also touched on other initiatives such as Breakfast with the Mayors, On the Table, Get Fit Franklin and Unite Williamson, among others.

"We are so pleased at the judges' response to our presentation as part of the city of Franklin's bid to become an All-America City,” Tate said. “I think it truly illustrates how collaborative the environment and the community of Franklin are, which fully represents the American spirit."

Other All-America City finalists are Algoma, Wis., Danville, Va., Douglasville, Ga., El Paso, Texas, Harlingen, Texas, Hopkinsville, Ky., Logansport, Ind., Mason City, Iowa, Miami Gardens, Fla., Miami Lakes, Fla., Muncie, Ind., Pitt County, N.C., Portsmouth, Ohio, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Roanoke, Va., Rochester, N.Y., and Sumter, S.C.