By Kristin Fox
Local historian and former Franklin Council Vice Mayor, the late Barbara McRae once had a dream to have a life-size sculpture commissioned to recognize the history and contributions of women to the town. This week at their October meeting, McRae’s dream took another step toward fruition as the Franklin Town Council approved a Memorandum of Understanding between the town and the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County.
The unanimous vote to accept the gift of the “Sowing the Seeds of the Future” sculpture drew a standing ovation from the board in recognition of the dedication of McRae and her team of volunteers. Members of the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County and the Women’s History Trail who put countless hours into the project under McRae’s and partner Mary Polanski’s leadership were present to witness the acceptance of the gift by the town.
Over the last four years, the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County and sponsor of the Women’s History Trail have coordinated the community effort to commission the permanent monument that has been designed and cast by sculptor Wesley Wofford. As envisioned by McRae, the monument will become the trailhead of the Women’s History Trail that was established in 2018 and will be located on town property near the bridges and Nikwasi Mound at the entrance to downtown Franklin in 2023.
The 7-foot-high bronze sculpture features the likeness of three women – Rebecca Morris (Cherokee), Salley (African American), and Timoxena Siler (White) – whose lives and cultures were intertwined in the earliest days of Macon County. These women came from different cultures, but all were strong, resilient, and caring. Their stories illustrate the triumphs and tragedies that gave rise to our country.
Town Attorney John Henning stated the evening was a “celebration of the wonderful community spirit that went behind the project, and that it would have been wonderful if McRae could have been present to see it.”
“I am excited for the town to be taking this town step, especially with some remembrance of Barbara McRae and the effort she put into this project,” said Henning. “She is missed tonight, and it would have been wonderful if she could have been here to see us take another step down the path she started for us four years ago.”
“This evening is an important moment, and we all look to the installation of this incredible piece of artwork,” said Mary Polanski. “This night in my mind is a very significant night in recognizing the town’s support, the community support, the donors that have helped to make this possible, I think they are the folks that I would lift up and particularly my dear friend and colleague, the visionary Barbara McRae.”
“I see this as an exciting moment looking forward to the finish and the installation, but the town accepting this gift and then what will come once we all come together to celebrate the installation is uplifting, positive and I think it will reverberate in this way for many years to come,” she added. “Tonight I will have us all remember Barbara. When I woke up this morning, I could almost hear her giggling, that Barbara giggle, that this is going to come to be.”
The Southern Scoop will share more information about the sculpture’s 2023 installation and festivities surrounding the unveiling as it is made available.