NASHVILLE – A Tennessee state lawmaker introduced legislation Wednesday proposing that a statue of one of the state’s most celebrated natives adorn the Capitol grounds in Nashville.
Rep. John Mark Windle, D-Livingston, introduced House Bill 135 aimed at honoring country music legend, actress, literacy advocate and philanthropist Dolly Parton, WKRN reported.
If approved, Windle said the statue would face the direction of the Ryman Auditorium, the former home of the Grand Ole Opry and the site of numerous Parton performances over the years.
“At this point in history, is there a better example, not just in America but in the world, of a leader that is kind, decent, passionate human being? (Parton is) a passionate person who loves everyone, and everyone loves her,” Windle told The Tennessean.
The bill states: “The State Capitol Commission, at regularly scheduled meetings, shall develop and implement a plan for the commissioning of a statue of Dolly Parton, to recognize her for all that she has contributed to this state.”
According to The Tennessean, the commission, created by the legislature in 1986, oversees the restoration and preservation of the Capitol Complex.
The newly introduced legislation also states that an account would be established within the state general fund, known as the Dolly Parton Fund, for the design, construction, installation and maintenance of the statue. Funds for the account would be contributed via gifts, grants and private donations to the state.
Windle told WKRN that, if approved, the commission would also solicit input from the public and “other interested parties” to develop the plan, including the statue design.
“The influx of people that have moved to Tennessee in the last several years is directly related to the kind, compassionate nature of Tennesseans, and she is the perfect example of that,” Windle told The Tennessean. “She has contributed so much and sacrificed so much of her time to so many great causes.”
In addition to her eponymous recording and acting careers, Parton founded the Imagination Library more than 20 years ago to boost childhood literacy, which has donated more than 100 million books to children under the age of 5 across the globe. She also established Dollywood Co. in 1986, and the entertainment empire employs thousands, the newspaper reported.
Most recently, however, Parton’s philanthropy took center stage when she announced a $1 million donation to Vanderbilt University in April that has since been used to help develop Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.