Georgia Republicans Propose Swapping Confederate Figure for Hank Aaron at US Capitol

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Georgia legislators are looking to replace a statue of their state displayed in the National Statuary Hall at the United States Capitol. The statue of Confederate Leader Alexander Stephens will be removed and replaced with Hank Aaron’s statue, who broke Babe Ruth’s record for home runs. The state legislature may have some issues with this plan.

The National Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol is a room dedicated to displaying monuments of Americans who made history. Congress created the exhibit in 1864 and each state contributed 2 statues of prominent citizens. The exhibit honors prominent citizens from each state and reflects America’s achievements. The Confederate figures have been replaced by those from other states.

There are fewer statues in the collection of Confederate members, such as Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederate States, and Joseph Wheeler – a Confederate commander.

The statues are located in the same space as those honoring Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Rosa Parks, and other civil rights icons.

Georgia gave the statue of Stephens to Georgia in 1927.

Stephens served as a member of the Georgia Legislature and the House of Representatives, in addition to serving as Governor of Georgia.

Several southern states sent statues honoring Confederate leaders when the exhibit first opened.

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Southern states used the federal law, signed by Abraham Lincoln in 1864, to honor Confederate war leaders and segregationists in the 1920s.

In 1926, Georgia’s white General Assembly decided to dedicate one of their statues to Crawford Long. Long was a physician from the 19th century who invented ether for surgery. The display was expanded a year later with a stone statue of Stephens.

Trey Kelley (a Republican state representative) proposed the idea of including Aaron, a former Atlanta Braves player, in the Hall. He said that there was “nothing American like baseball” and “nobody personifies American values better than Hank Aaron.”

The legislator also praised the athlete for his use of influence to “advance civil rights, inspire entrepreneurialism, and hammer Georgia as we know it today.”

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Lt. Gov. Burt Jones described Aaron as “a hero for Georgians everywhere.” He added that Aaron “deserves an honor that reflects both his stature and commitment to Georgia values.”

Alexander Stephens was the Vice President of the Confederate States of America in the Civil War. He was an important figure in the South during the antebellum period and was known for his support of states’ rights. In 1861, he is best known for the “Cornerstone Speech” in which he ardently supported slavery as a “natural and normal condition” of Blacks and the foundation of the Confederacy.

Georgia will now join other southern states in removing racist figures from the Hall.

Florida replaced a statue honoring a Black educator, Mary McLeod Bethune with one two years earlier. North Carolina unveiled the statue of Rev. Billy Graham will replace a statue of a former governor who was a white nationalist.

The state legislature will reconvene in January of next year to consider the replacement. The Peach State has not yet decided whether Aaron will be approved by Aaron’s family or if other legislators will support the change. If this were to happen, other states may follow suit.