Saturday, 18 May 2024

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Georgia Republicans propose putting Hank Aaron statue in U.S. Capitol

Georgia Republicans propose putting Hank Aaron statue in U.S. Capitol

Legislators from Georgia have agreed for the past three years that the statue of Alexander Stephens, Confederate vice president, needed to be removed from the U.S. Capitol. They just couldn’t agree on who should replace him. Now, state Republicans have an idea that will be hard for anyone to find fault with: Atlanta Braves legend Hank Aaron.

The idea, from state Rep. Trey Kelley, is already winning support, with Georgia’s lieutenant governor seconding it, calling Aaron a “hero to Georgians everywhere and deserves to be honored in a way that reflects his stature and his commitment to Georgia values.”

The Georgia legislature will have the final say on the matter—and nothing will happen until January when legislators reconvene. The group failed to approve a previous proposal to replace the statue with one of Rep. John Lewis, which had bipartisan support. An earlier measure to replace Stephens’ statue with one of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. failed to pass as well.

The statue in question would go in the National Statuary Hall. The decision to remove Stephens came as more and more people found lionizing Confederate heroes to be in poor taste. Stephens was a white supremacist who rejected the Declaration of Independence’s “all men are created equal” statement.

Florida and North Carolina have both replaced statues in the Hall of Confederate figures.

States were allowed to choose which two figures they would enshrine in the Capitol in 1864. An all-white Georgia legislature in 1927 opted for Stephens, a move that was controversial even then, as he was famous for saying slavery was the “natural and normal condition” of Black people.

“There’s nothing more American than baseball, and no one personifies American values more than Hank Aaron,” Kelley told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He used his influence to advance civil rights, inspire entrepreneurship and hammer home the Georgia we know today.”

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