New memorial at Carnton to honor those enslaved in the pre-Civil War era

New memorial at Carnton to honor those enslaved in the pre-Civil War era

FRANKLIN, TN (WSMV) – “Tell the whole story.”

That’s what a group in Franklin is pushing to do. They said stories of slaves in the Civil War-era haven’t been shared in the way they should. These stories will now reach people in a powerful new way.

“We have for so many years not told the full story,” said Alma McLemore, President of the African American Heritage Society of Williamson County.

Just past the long rows of graves of Confederate soldiers, there’s a part of a cemetery with little rocks peaking up from the ground. At Carnton Plantation, those rocks mark the final resting place of just a few of the many slaves who once lived in Williamson County.

“At one time there were 12,000 slaves in our community,” said McLemore. “There were more slaves than slave owners. That was just unbelievable.”

McLemore said her work is to tell the story of the overlooked, like the ones buried on this hallowed ground. Something’s about to help.

Robert Hicks, Lamont Turner and Justin Stelter are all connected to the group Franklin’s Charge. They joined McLemore outside Carnton on Wednesday. Franklin’s Charge has raised donations to place a new 10,000-pound marker at McGavock Cemetery. After an unveiling Saturday afternoon, it will be there to honor the thousands who were enslaved in the county.

“Most of those graves are lost,” said Hicks. “Most of those slave cemeteries don’t exist any longer.”

The group, working as a team, said they’re not taking away anything from the importance of the rock on the property now.

“I think they’re just as important as the new monument because someone took the time to choose that rock to represent their loved one,” said Turner.

McLemore’s proud to ensure the stories of people once overlooked now won’t be forgotten.

“It’s bringing people together,” said McLemore. “It’s uniting us.”

“This is the time,” said Hicks. “We are ready. Franklin needs to address its past and move forward.”

“Why right now? It just happened,” said Stelter. “All the pieces came together.”

“Their lives mattered,” said Turner. “They were important. They were children of God. They need to be respected like anyone else.”

“This is a glorious day in Franklin once again,” McLemore concluded. “I mean, we are now on the map.”