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John Lewis memorial will replace Confederate monument in Atlanta

The Confederate monument was removed in 2020 after it was deemed a public nuisance.

John Lewis Getty Images

A memorial for civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis will be built on the grounds of the DeKalb County Courthouse, replacing the Confederate monument that was previously displayed there. DeKalb County commissioners approved the resolution on Tuesday (Jan. 26).

“John was a giant of a man with a humble heart,” DeKalb County Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He met no strangers and he truly was a man who loved the people and who loved his country, which he represented very well. He deserves this honor.”

According to the Associated Press, “The Lost Cause” was put in place by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1909 — the same year the state blocked African-Americans from voting. In 2020, however, a judge ordered its removal, deeming it a public nuisance and bypassing a law that probihited the removal or relocating of “publicly owned monument[s] honoring Confederate soldiers.”

“In short, the Confederate obelisk has become an increasingly frequent target of graffiti and vandalism, a figurative lightning rod for friction among citizens, and a potential catastrophe that could happen at any time if individuals attempt to forcibly remove or destroy it,” the judge wrote in his order.

Lewis was the last surviving speaker at the 1963 March on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. He helmed the 1965 march from Selma to Alabama and served as Georgia’s 5th Congressional District from 1985 until he passed away.

In the wake of his death, many pushed for popular streets and schools to be named in his honor. The Council of Nashville and Davidson County made the decision to designate a popular Tennessee street to Rep. John Lewis Way. Virginia’s Robert E. Lee High School was renamed John Lewis High School, and many asked for the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama to be named after the civil rights icon.

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