Chip

Known as "Chip," the Confederate Monument that stands in the center of downtown Franklin is one of the more prominent Confederate symbols in Williamson County.

After attending the George Floyd prayer vigil in Franklin earlier this month, 19 year-old Ryan Roland said it “moved something in [him].” 

Having grown up in Franklin, Roland said he never gave much thought to the Confederate monument - also known as “Chip” - that sits in the center of downtown Franklin as he passed it by hundreds of times throughout his youth. 

But as calls for equality from the black community increased over the years, culminating with the killing of Floyd at the hands of a white police officer and the subsequent prayer vigil in Franklin, Roland felt he needed to do more than be a passive observer.

“There was just so much passion, and it kind of moved something in me,” Roland said of the vigil. 

“For a white male growing up in Franklin, Tennessee, you don't really get the opportunity to experience other perspectives because everyone is very much like yourself - it's such a homogeneous area. I came to realize then that I should be doing something to help other people.”

For Roland, putting those sentiments into action meant starting a petition; a petition to see Chip removed and replaced at the Franklin Square.

“I never took a second to realize what it was about,” Roland said. “It was erected during Jim Crow [era], and it was birthed out of hatred to keep African Americans out of the town, letting people know where they sided on the issue.”

A common counterpoint to calls for the removal of public Confederate symbols are arguments for the preservation of history. Roland said he believed there are ways to preserve history without celebrating such symbols of “inherent bigotry,” as he heard the monument be referred to as during the vigil.

“I don't have any quarrel with the Carnton Plantation because that is a relic of the era,” Roland said. 

“I would be fine with moving Chip to the Carnton Plantation because that's a museum, a time capsule. People can still go see it if they really want to, but the thing is, if you're driving through downtown Franklin, you have to see that - it is looming.”

“[Things] like Dachao, the extermination camp in Germany, those have become museums so people can learn about it. They don't have statues of SS officers and of Hitler in the middle of town squares.”

As of Wednesday night, the petition has received 9,529 signatures.

Roland said he hopes that the Tennessee Historical Commission - the only governing body that would have the authority to allow for the monument’s removal - might take notice of the petition soon given its considerably sized support, and ultimately, consider acting on it.