This is a totally parochial article, pertains to the state of Georgia. Each state gets to put two statues in the Capitol Rotunda. The last time I was in the place, I gazed absentmindedly at our state’s statue of Alexander Hamilton Stephens while some group’s tour guide blathered on about the statues. Stephens was the Vice President of the Confederacy and a virulent racist. Find his pre-Civil War quotes about the struggle being about white supremacy. Not much nuance about his views.
A perpetually sickly person, it is said that he never weighed over 100 pounds. He made up for that with his tongue. A plantation owner, many slaves, some longrunning discussion about a line of African Americans who trace their ancestry back to Stephens and a slave girl. There were some aspects of his slave ownership that southern apologists would call enlightened. But, his statue wasn’t chosen almost a century ago by the Georgia legislature for placement in Statuary Hall for his being a progressive slave owner. He’s there because he was VP of the Confederacy and an unashamed racist.
So, Georgia legislature, take a vote. Replace Stephen’s statue with that of the authentic Civil Rights hero, John Lewis who just died.
I’ve always liked Lewis even though his politics were such that I wouldn’t have voted for him in a thousand years. He was battered and bloodied as a young man. I know of no ethical failures that attach to him. There’s plenty of information about him available at the moment. I like that as a kid, he would preach to the chickens.
Move that old racist off to a museum. Put a statue of the young John Lewis, just off the farm and engaged in the civil rights struggle, in his place. That would be a pretty good swap for the peach state.
Jim Galloway, Atlanta-Journal Constitution columnist has this idea yesterday. I stole it from him. Read his column on it.
Lewis was from Alabama but was smart enough to move to Atlanta where he lived and where his congressional district was located.
Georgia’s other statue is Crawford W. Long who first used ether as an anesthetic in surgery. I think of him every time I have a colonoscopy. Some dispute about another guy being first but, hey, we’ve got the statue in the Capitol rotunda.
And, there is nothing about this that pertains to the Southern Baptist Convention. If there’s a war on monuments, here’s a change that I would support.