There's a movement in Tennessee to replace Confederate monuments with statues of Dolly Parton
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A Change.org petition calls for Confederate statues to be torn down in Tennessee and replaced with monuments to someone who isn't racist and didn't lose: Dolly Parton.

Alex Parsons created the petition asking Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and the Tennessee State House to honor the country singer because she "has worked her entire life to bring us closer together." The Confederacy did not.

Over 7,500 people have signed the petition.


The controversy over what America should do with its Confederate monuments has been reignited after the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer last month.

"Aside from her beautiful music, which has touched the hearts and lives of millions of Americans, Dolly Parton's philanthropic heart has unquestionably changed the world for the better," Parsons wrote on Thursday.

"From the Dollywood foundation that has provided books and scholarships to millions of American children, to the millions of dollars she has donated to dozens of organizations such as the Red Cross and COVID-19 research centers, Dolly Parton has given more to this country and this state than those confederate officers could ever have hoped to take away," the petition continues.

According to a 2017 report, there are approximately 70 Confederate monuments in the state of Tennessee. Most are found on battlefields, in cemeteries, and on courthouse lawns or public squares. A majority were erected between 1885 and 1915.

"Most of the people who were involved in erecting the monuments were not necessarily erecting a monument to the past," said Jane Dailey, an associate professor of history at the University of Chicago, told NPR. "But were rather, erecting them toward a white supremacist future."

via cmh2315fl / Flickr

There are approximately 700 Confederate monuments in 31 states and the District of Columbia in the United States. Eleven states seceded from the Union on the outset of the Civil War.

"As a Tennessean, it makes me sick that there are monuments standing in our state that celebrate racist historical figures who did evil things. Edward Carmack and Nathan Bedford Forrest were despicable figures in our state history and should be treated as such," Parsons wrote.

"The tyranny memorialized in those statues can no longer be allowed to stand, be it removed or replaced by someone worthy of praise, such as Dolly Parton," Parsons added.

Tennessee currently has one statue of Parton which was erected in 1987 in the center of the Sevier County Courthouse lawn in the heart of Sevierville, Tennessee. It was unveiled shortly after she purchased the Silver Dollar City and rechristened it Dollywood.

The statue is a popular stop for country music fans.

The question comes down to what Tennesseans think they should celebrate bout their state. A Confederacy that was created to help preserve a tradition of white supremacy and violent human enslavement? Or the state's favorite daughter who has been bringing joy to people all over the world for over 74 years?

Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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