Franklin Anticipates One Celebration, Two Locations

By Clint Confehr

FRANKLIN, TN — There was no question that votes would be cast by the mayor and aldermen Tuesday for June 19 events to celebrate freedom.

Juneteenth in Franklin is anticipated to be “one celebration at two locations,” Mayor Ken Moore said describing what’s planned: in Pinkerton Park near Fort Granger, the city’s connection to Juneteenth; and on Franklin’s Public Square.

Franklin Transit Authority is offering trolly rides between downtown and the park which has a pedestrian bridge over the Harpeth River.

A Civil War marker is to be unveiled by the African-American Heritage Society (AAHS) of Williamson County. The marker tells about: Juneteenth; Union Gen. Gordon Granger; and the fort named for him.

On June 19, 1865, nearly 10 weeks after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered, Union Gen. Gordon Granger in Galveston, Texas notified everyone; “all slaves are free.” Two years earlier, Granger, union soldiers and escaped slaves built Fort Granger from which Union artillery shelled Confederate troops during the Battle of Franklin on Nov. 30, 1864.

Franklin’s connection to Juneteenth is bitter sweet. Lincoln’s Emancipation proclamation of September 1862 didn’t take effect until January 1863. For 29 months, news of emancipation was suppressed in the South, so many enslaved people didn’t know until Granger’s order now some 156 years ago.

The ‘General Granger and Emancipation’ marker will be unveiled by the AAHS during its June 19 program in Pinkerton Park from noon to 3 p.m. The historical society is well-known for hosting more than a dozen Juneteenth celebrations at its McLemore House. It’s being restored, so the celebration is in the park.

From 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. June 19, the Fuller Story project and the Franklin Justice and Equality Coalition have planned a Juneteenth Celebration much in the fashion of other festivals in Franklin. Parts of Main Street and 3rd Avenues North and South will be closed around the traffic circle near City Hall.

Several civic groups have emerged here to improve race relations and face historic facts in what was a small Southern town that developed a tourist trade on the Civil War and antebellum imagery. The Fuller Story project emerged during a candlelight vigil in Franklin shortly after the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va. in August 2017.

Having met again and again at candle-light vigils for victims of racism, four friends resolved to tell a “fuller story” on Franklin’s history. Local activists called for removal of a confederate statue. In response, Fuller Story advocates coalesced and historic markers have been placed around the statue owned by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

Eric Jacobson, CEO of the Battle of Franklin Trust, was one of those who’ve advocated unification on civil rights. Having met again and again at events for victims of racism, the group campaigned for placement of a bronze statue depicting a Black Union Army soldier. It was planned to be in front of Williamson County’s historic courthouse.

Born in Tennessee, Columbus, Ohio-based sculptor Joe F. Howard was commissioned to produce the statue. Eleven moths ago, the citizens group anticipated unveiling the statue on the 19th next month.

However, “The statue itself isn’t done,” Jacobson said Tuesday evening, “so we’ve decided — instead of rushing it — we’ll have it unveiled in the fall … It will be it’s own event and won’t be competing against other events.”

Officially, Franklin’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen was scheduled May 11 to grant special event permits for Juneteenth celebrations. Food trucks, entertainment and traditional family activities such as a cake walk and vendors’ booths are anticipated in Franklin that day.

Clint Confehr

Clint Confehr — an American journalist since 1972 — first wrote for The Tennessee Tribune in 1999. His news writing and photography in South Central Tennessee and the Nashville Metropolitan Statistical...