Georgia unveils statue of civil rights
leader King on capitol grounds
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[August 29, 2017]
By David Beasley
ATLANTA (Reuters) - Georgia on Monday
unveiled a statue of the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
on the same capitol grounds in Atlanta where statues of segregationists
The new installation comes amid an intensified debate in the United
States over Confederate symbols after a woman was killed during an Aug.
12 protest by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, objecting
to the planned removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
The bronze King statue should provide a sense of hope, his daughter
Bernice King told the several hundred people who attended the unveiling
ceremony in the state that was part of the Confederacy during the U.S.
The event on Monday was timed to coincide with the 54th anniversary of
King's “I Have a Dream” speech calling for racial justice and equality.
The civil rights leader said it was his dream that the sons of former
slaves and former slave owners would one day sit down together in
"Well, the sons of former slaves and sons of former slave owners sat
down in this state capitol and made the decision to erect the Martin
Luther King Jr. monument,” Bernice King said.
King, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who was assassinated in 1968, was born
a few blocks from the Georgia capitol. Although his portrait is on
display inside the building, there had been no monuments to him on the
Capitol grounds. The statue faces his birthplace.
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Members of Martin Luther King Jr.'s family and Georgia elected
leaders stand in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. statue unveiled
in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., August 28, 2017. REUTERS/David Beasley
The monument to King joins existing statues on capitol grounds of
John B. Gordon, a Confederate military general; Joseph Brown, the
state's governor during the Civil War; and past Governor Eugene
Talmadge, a staunch segregationist.
Georgia state officials in 2014 announced plans for the King statue
a few months after they quietly relocated off capitol grounds a
statue of Thomas Watson, a U.S. senator who died in 1922. Watson
espoused bigoted attitudes towards African Americans, Catholics, and
Jews, according to scholars.
"This day took much too long to get here,” said David Ralston, the
Republican speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives. "From
those days we can grow and learn."
(Reporting by David Beasley in Atlanta; Editing by Bernie Woodall,
Andrew Hay and Lisa Shumaker)
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