Civil Rights Leaders & Lawmakers Push MLK Statue; Gov. Deal Noncommittal

Jan 10, 2014

Rev. Joseph Lowery and other civil rights leaders want a statue of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., in front of the state Capitol.
Credit PBA

Several high-profile civil rights leaders and lawmakers want a Martin Luther King, Jr., statue in front of the state Capitol.

Supporters are pushing for action this legislative session.

Speaking at the Gold Dome, Charles Steele, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which King helped found, said it’s long overdue.

“They are building his statue and imagery all across the world. Certainly we can do it in his home state of Georgia,” said Steele.

Steele and others want the MLK statue located in the spot once occupied by a statue of controversial politician and publisher Thomas Watson. This fall, Gov. Nathan Deal issued an executive order to permanently relocate the Watson statue to a less prominent position across the street.

State Rep. Tyrone Brooks (D-Atlanta) commended Deal on that decision and vowed to push legislation on the new MLK statue this session.

“I believe one day we will see a statue of Dr. King outside. I don’t know if it’s going to be 2014. I may be gone. I may be dead. But I believe it’s going to happen,” said Brooks. 

He said he’ll sponsor the statue bill in the House and state Sen. Gail Davenport (D-Jonesboro) will do the same in the Senate.  

SCLC leaders have committed to as much fundraising as necessary to pay for the statue.

Rev. Joseph Lowery, King’s former ally and recent Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, called on Deal to support the campaign.

“I would urge the governor to take advantage of this opportunity. Not to wait until somebody else does it. He is the governor and he has the opportunity now to do what should have been done a long, long time ago,” said Lowery.

Deal, for now, is noncommittal.

“Well, that’s a decision I think the members of the General Assembly need to make. It’s not one that the governor should impose on them. I feel certain there will be discussions on that this year.”

 Legislative session kicks off Monday.