State lawmaker prepares legislation for John Lewis statue at U.S. Capitol

A state lawmaker will soon file a resolution in the Georgia House of Representatives to erect a statue of the late Congressman John Lewis at the U.S. Capitol. 

"John Lewis is a legend in Georgia and in this country.  His contributions are too great to even mention and he represents Georgia well," said state Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway.  "He'll be a good representation for almost 11 million Georgians." 

Rep. Williams said he was still "perfecting" the bill, but planned to prefile it ahead of the 2021 legislative session in the coming days.  According to Williams, the legislation has bipartisan support with both Democratic and Republican co-sponsors. 

The idea to honor Lewis with a statue at the Capitol first began circulating after Lewis' passing this summer. House Speaker David Ralston publicly supported the idea then and according to his office, still does. 

UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 24: Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., is seen near the statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in the Capitol Rotunda before a memorial service for the late Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., in Statuary Hall on Thursday, October 24, 2019. (Ph

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Each state selects two figures to represent them in the National Statuary Hall Collection. Currently, Georgia's statues are of Crawford Long and Alexander Hamilton Stephens. The sculptures have stood inside the U.S. Capitol since 1926 and 1927, respectively. 

In the midst of protests and conversations about social justice this year, many called for the removal of some figures from the collection, including Stephens who served as the Vice President of the Confederacy. 

Rep. Williams said that decision has not been set in stone, but he agrees Stephens' statue would likely be the one removed to make way for Lewis.  The change will take some time, though.  First, state lawmakers must approve the resolution and then they will assign a committee to steer the project and select an artist.

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Congressman Lewis represented Georgia in the U.S. House for more than three decades and Williams said he could not think of a more fitting place to honor his service to our state. 

"We have so much to be thankful for and certainly the legacy that John Lewis left is part of those reasons to be thankful," said Rep. Williams.  "I have personal reasons also.  I'm the only member of the General Assembly that marched from Selma to Montgomery.  It's very close to me and I know what it meant to this country. I know what it meant to the world."  

The legislative session begins January 11. Williams said he looks forward to a unanimous vote on the resolution. 

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