Proposal would replace statue of Confederate with John Lewis

A statue of the late congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis could soon represent Georgia in the National Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol

The push to drop Stephens in favor of Lewis, who served as a Georgia congressman for 33 years, comes amid nationwide soul-searching over celebrations of the Confederacy; dozens of Confederate statues fell during protests for racial justice over the spring and summer.

The resolution is sponsored by state Rep. Al Williams, a Democrat from Midway, and has the backing of Republican House Speaker David Ralston.

Prominent Georgia politicians on both sides of the aisle endorsed the idea after Lewis’ death in July, including Republican Gov. Brian Kemp. The majority of Georgia’s congressional delegation signed onto a letter asking Kemp, Ralston and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan to replace the statue of Stephens with one of Lewis.

Each state is represented by two statues in the U.S. Capitol building. Stephens has been on display as one of Georgia’s statues since 1927.

Stephens was a white supremacist who lived from 1812 to 1883. In addition to his role in the Confederacy, he served in Congress and was Georgia’s governor for four months before his death.

Lewis was originally from Alabama but made Atlanta his longtime home. He is perhaps best known for leading civil rights protesters in the 1965 Bloody Sunday march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, where he had his skull fractured by police.