The musician released a statement on the issue on Thursday.
She began by thanking the Tennessee lawmakers who have supported the initiative. “I am honoured and humbled by their intention but I have asked the leaders of the state legislature to remove the bill from any and all consideration,” she added.
Parton explained her decision, adding: “Given all that is going on in the world, I don’t think putting me on a pedestal is appropriate at this time. I hope, though, that somewhere down the road several years from now or perhaps after I’m gone if you still feel I deserve it, then I’m certain I will stand proud in our great State Capitol as a grateful Tennessean.”
The singer pledged to “continue to try to do good work to make this great state proud”.
Parton is a native of Tennessee and – while becoming a global icon – has retained strong ties with the state. Her Dollywood theme park, located in Pigeon Forge, is one of its biggest tourist attractions.
In January this year, Democratic Representative John Mark Windle introduced a bill making the case for a statue recognising Parton “for all that she has contributed to this state”. According to the bill, the statue wouldn’t have been funded through tax dollars, but through private gifts, grants, and donations.
The artist has a long history of philanthropy, with initiatives dedicated to increasing child literacy or helping people who lost their homes in the Gatlinburg wildfires in 2016.
Recently, Parton made a million-dollar donation that helped the development of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine.
Dr Mark Denison of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, who worked on the vaccine research, told The New York Times the donation was “critical” in funding early research efforts.
“Her money helped us develop the test that we used to first show that the Moderna vaccine was giving people a good immune response that might protect them,” he told the newspaper.
Last year, a new mural in Nashville, Tennessee, celebrated Parton’s support of Black Lives Matter. It consists of a portrait of a singer, along with the quote – coming from an interview Parton gave to Billboard : “Of course Black lives matter. Do we think our little white a**es are the only ones that matter?”
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