After civil rights icon and Congressman, John R. Lewis was laid to rest in Atlanta on Thursday (July 30), most of Georgia’s congressional delegation signed letters demanding that a replica of the late leader stand in replacement of a Confederate politician to represent the state at the U.S. Capitol.
Letters were sent to Gov. Brian Kemp, Lt. Gov. Jeff Duncan, and Georgia House Speaker David Ralston on the same day as Lewis’ final homegoing celebration asking them to remove the Georgia statue of Confederate leader Alexander H. Stephens, a former Georgia lawmaker. Each state is allowed to display two statues of notable residents at the Capitol, 11Alive notes.
“John Lewis’ commitment to non-violence in the pursuit of justice for all inspired millions across Georgia, America, and the world,” Georgia U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop tells WSB-TV Channel 2 News. Lewis died July 17 after a six-month battle with pancreatic cancer.
Stephens served as the vice president of the Confederate States from 1861 to 1865 and later as the 50th Governor of Georgia from 1882 until his death the following year. He was most known for his “Cornerstone Speech” in which he announced “that the new government was founded on the idea that blacks were inferior to whites.”
Gov. Kemp extended his support for the new Lewis statue in the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday (July 29) in a tweet.
“Today, we honored the life of Congressman John Lewis. By putting his statue in the U.S. Capitol, we can celebrate his legacy of service for years to come.”
The National Statuary Hall Collection at the U.S. Capitol allows each state to display two statues in the U.S. Capitol complex.