John Lewis statue replaces confederate memorial in Georgia

The site featured a 30-foot stone pillar suggesting the Civil War was fought to uphold “Southern Honor.”

A monument honoring late civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis is one step closer to completion after DeKalb County commissioners approved a plan to erect the statue in replacement of a demolished monument that celebrated confederate history.

As reported by WSB-TV Atlanta, commissioners last week greenlit the project for construction on the grounds of the DeKalb County Courthouse in Decatur Square — a site that for 112 years featured a 30-foot stone pillar with writing that suggested the Civil War was fought to uphold “Southern Honor.”

John Lewis thegrio.com
Rep. John Lewis (Photo by Melina Mara-Pool/Getty Images)

The board in January 2021 first approved a resolution to build a statue honoring Lewis in place of the confederate obelisk monument, which toppled in June 2020 after a Decatur judge ruled it a threat to public safety due to regular vandalism, as previously reported by theGrio.

A county task force last week voted to accept the proposed monument as “an appropriate means to honor the life and legacy of the Congressman John Lewis and celebrate Congressman Lewis’ remarkable life and fight for civil rights, justice and equality,” according to DeKalb County Board of Commissioners meeting minutes, per WSB-TV. 

Lewis, a longtime US congressman and civil rights icon, died at age 80 following a battle with pancreatic cancer in July 2020. He was one of the original Freedom Riders that challenged segregation in 1961, and helped organize the March on Washington with Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963, as previously reported by theGrio.

“The area that once held the obelisk monument is unique as it sits wholly, both in the Congressional District Mr. Lewis represented for over 33 years and in DeKalb County, Georgia, and in the City of Decatur, the county seat,” reads the January 2021 resolution, as reported by the Champion.

Although the state of Georgia in 2019 passed a law protecting confederate monuments, saying they honored history and heritage, Decatur Judge Clarence Seeliger called the former obelisk a “lightning rod for friction among citizens” following the George Floyd protests of June 2020, as previously reported by theGrio.

Per a court ruling, the obelisk will be moved to a storage facility indefinitely, according to WSB-TV.

theGrio’s Renee G contributed to this report.

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