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Georgia House to consider replacing Confederate statue with statue of John Lewis

Georgia House to consider replacing Confederate statue with statue of John Lewis
© Greg Nash

A bipartisan push in the Georgia legislature would replace a statue of Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens with one of the late civil rights leader Rep. John LewisJohn LewisDemocrats see opportunity as states push new voting rules Lobbying world Patagonia to donate million to Georgia voting rights groups MORE (D-Ga.) in the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall.

State House Speaker David Ralston (R) will co-sponsor the measure with state Rep. Al Williams (D), according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The effort has secured bipartisan support among Georgia’s congressional delegation as well, with U.S. Reps. Tom GravesJohn (Tom) Thomas GravesGreene's future on House committees in limbo after GOP meeting McConnell says Taylor Greene's embrace of conspiracy theories a 'cancer' GOP has growing Marjorie Taylor Greene problem MORE (R) and Sanford Bishop (D) both writing in support of it, according to the newspaper.

Gov. Brian KempBrian KempSolving the 'primary problem' will repair our government and elections Stacey Abrams urged MLB adviser to keep All-Star Game in Georgia: report Georgia lieutenant governor: Giuliani election claims helped lead to new voting law MORE (R) would have to approve the switch, but he has previously expressed support, as has Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (R), the president of the state Senate.

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“I like the idea [of changing the statues] very much,” Ralston said in July shortly after Lewis’s death. “I always admired Congressman Lewis and told him so many times. Georgia has a long history, so much more than just the Civil War, and John Lewis has been an important part of that.”

Duncan, too, has expressed support for a statue of Lewis in the Capitol to ensure the Peach State is represented “by a figure that aligns with our state’s core values.”

Stephens delivered the notorious 1861 “Cornerstone Speech,” in which he explicitly described chattel slavery and white supremacy as foundational to the Confederacy.

Several states have switched out statues of Confederate figures in the hall over the years, including most recently Virginia’s statue of Robert E. Lee. Virginia lawmakers voted to replace Lee with Barbara Rose Johns Powell, a plaintiff in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education civil rights case.

Lewis’s death has kickstarted a conversation on Georgia’s legacy in the civil rights movement, as has the election of the Rev. Raphael WarnockRaphael WarnockGeorgia lawmaker arrested while governor signed election bill won't be prosecuted Democrats see opportunity as states push new voting rules Texas governor refuses to throw first pitch over MLB stance on Georgia MORE (D) as the first Black senator in the state’s history. Warnock is senior pastor at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, Martin Luther King Jr.'s former congregation.