The Fuller Story initiative is hosting “Three Landmark Days with The Fuller Story.” These three days of education and celebration will culminate with the unveiling and dedication of the bronze United States Colored Troops Soldier Statue. The ceremony for the statue, which is entitled “March to Freedom” and sculpted by Tennessee native Joe F. Howard, will take place in front of the Historic Courthouse on the square in downtown Franklin, TN on Saturday morning, October 23, 2021 at 10:30 am.
On Thursday evening, at the Historic Franklin Theater on Main Street, “Telling the Story of The Fuller Story” took place. The brothers of The Fuller Story Hewitt Sawyers, Eric Jacobson, Kevin Riggs, and Chris Williamson share about their experiences during their four-year journey in this momentous cause.
Friday October 22nd at 6:30 pm at the Factory in Franklin: “An Elegant Evening with The Fuller Story.” Put on your best suit and gown to enjoy a brief program, catered meal, live musical entertainment by Jason Eskridge, and dancing to the music of Nioshi Jackson & The Heroes. We will hear from sculptor Joe F. Howard about his experience in creating “March To Freedom.”
Several modern day African American celebrity heroes in our community will also be recognized with the USCT Humanitarian Award. This list includes Grammy award-winning jazz saxophonist Kirk Whalum, activist Cyntoia Brown Long, and former Titans and Super Bowl champion coach Sherman Smith, among others. Tickets are $100 per person and $1,000 per table. Tickets for this 800-seat event can be purchased through the Battle of Franklin Trust’s website at https://boft.org/usct-statue-
Saturday October 23rd at 10:30 am, on the square of downtown Franklin: “The Citywide USCT Soldier Statue Unveiling and Dedication.” Remarks will be given at this ceremony by The Fuller Story, Mayor Ken Moore, City Administrator Eric Stuckey, Alderman Dana McLendon, and sculptor Joe F. Howard. Special music will be rendered by the African American ensemble “Kettle Praise.” This event is free and open to the public.
Dr. Chris Williamson, a founding member of the Fuller Story, said, “This glorious statue will stand in front of the Historic Courthouse in Franklin where hundreds of escaped slaves in Williamson county and surrounding areas fled to in order to enlist in the Union Army. This statue represents the 186,000 United States Colored Troops soldiers who courageously fought for this country’s freedom and their own freedom. These black men are worthy to be honored and celebrated.”
The Fuller Story initiative began in August of 2017 after a white nationalist protest rally in Charlottesville, VA erupted into violence over the removal of a Robert E. Lee monument. Back in Franklin, TN, two black men (Rev. Hewitt Sawyers and Rev. Chris Williamson) and two white men (Rev. Kevin Riggs and Historian Eric Jacobson) decided to work together along with our city’s mayor and administrators in an effort to provide proactive solutions surrounding the controversy of confederate monuments. A plan arose that would focus on education and representation. In 2019, five historic markers were installed around the city square, telling the stories of enslaved Africans and African Americans before, during, and after the Civil War. The final aspect of the plan involves installing a statue of a USCT soldier in a place of prominence and equal nobility on the city’s square.
The Fuller Story also played an instrumental role in the city of Franklin winning the All-America City Award in 2020.