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Georgia Lawmakers Eye Hank Aaron Statue to Replace Confederate Figure

Georgia lawmakers are thinking about swapping out the statue of Confederate leader Alexander Stephens at the U.S. Capitol with a sculpture of Hall of Fame baseball player Hank Aaron. Republican state Rep. Trey Kelley and Lt. Gov. Burt Jones are open to the idea. Mr. Kelley stated, “There’s nothing more American than baseball, and no one personifies American values more than Hank Aaron. He used his influence to advance civil rights, inspire entrepreneurship and hammer home the Georgia we know today.”

This is not the first time lawmakers have attempted to replace the statue of Alexander Stephens, the first and only vice president of the Confederacy. In 2020, Gov. Brian Kemp and other Republican leaders supported a plan to replace the statue with one of late Democratic Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights icon, but the plan did not move forward.

The statue of Stephens is part of the National Statuary Hall collection, where each state can place two statues of individuals they believe deserve recognition in the halls of Congress. The collection also includes statues of other Confederate figures, such as Jefferson Davis and Joseph Wheeler, along with statues honoring President Abraham Lincoln, abolitionist Frederick Douglass, and civil rights icon Rosa Parks.

The debate over Confederate statues at the U.S. Capitol has grown more intense following events like the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville and the 2020 murder of George Floyd, which resulted in protests and the removal of Confederate symbols from public spaces.

The Southern Poverty Law Center reported that 168 Confederate symbols were renamed or removed from public spaces in 2020. Additionally, Democrats in Congress have attempted to remove all remaining Confederate statues and busts from public areas in the Capitol. They also passed a bill in 2021 that called for replacing the bust of Roger Brooke Taney, the former chief justice of the United States known for authoring the 1857 Dred Scott decision, with a new statue.

These efforts have sparked debates about the role and representation of Confederate symbols in public spaces, particularly in the U.S. Capitol.

Written by Staff Reports

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