Sculpture to celebrate African American contribution in the community

JACKSON, Tenn. — A new commemorative project will help bring local African American history to the forefront.

“When this park is completed that it will be a destination site, as a place to gather and celebrate and just learn,” sculptor and Union University professor Lee Benson said.

Benson says he was inspired to create the sculpture after a conversation with one local African American dentist.

“He said,’ You know Lee, the black man was left out of the last 100 years of Jackson-Madison County’s history, but we won’t be left out the next 100 years,'” Benson said.

Benson said it took 10 years of proposing the project before Mayor Jerry Gist said the city was able to fund it.

“About a year and a half ago he thought that they had the funds available and that they’d put the effort to it,” Benson said.

The fairly large sculpture, which will be located in Shirlene Mercer Park in east Jackson, will stand as a tribute to African Americans’ contribution to the growth of Jackson and Madison County.

“It’ll be a small hill, 120 feet wide, 15 feet tall, a 40-foot top to it, flat,” Benson said. “On top of that hill will be seven large Tennessee marble boulders, 28,000 pounds apiece.”

Benson says as a community we need to argue less about taking down monuments and focus more on unity in the community.

Sculptures are a great way that we can encourage one another to be good members of the human race,” Benson said.

Benson says each boulder in the large monument will represent one of seven individuals who played a role in the development and success of the Jackson-Madison County community.

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