They’re breaking ground on the DeKalb County statue honoring civil rights icon and Georgia congressman, John Lewis.
John Lewis, born on February 21, 1940 in Alabama, was one of the “Big Six” leaders of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and went down in history as one of the greatest Black congressmen. He was 80 years old when he died on July 17, 2020 after a battle with pancreatic cancer and has been honored in a number of ways since. He has a scholarship in his honor at Spelman College, the new John and Lillian Miles Lewis Foundation, which launched this year in honor of him and his wife, and now a statue in front of the DeKalb County Courthouse.
This started in 2020 when the 30-foot stone pillar that commemorated confederate history was demolished; it posed as a threat to public safety due to constant vandalism. The John Lewis Commemorative Task Force was formed and, in 2021, the board approved a resolution to build a statue honoring him. Just last week, they decided to keep the ball rolling, giving the green light to start building it.
Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights representatives stated back in July, “It is our hope that because our youth played such an essential role in the removal of the [Confederate] monument, that a statue of the young John Lewis during his [younger] years will be erected in the Decatur square. This will be a reminder of how many young people have been a catalyst for change in the world. Where a monument once stood to intimidate and disenfranchise Black voters, soon will stand a statue of an American hero who gave his life to building the movement that ensures Black people have the right to vote.”
It’s still unknown who will sculpt the statue, but Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights representatives announced that it will portray the younger Lewis. Because of John Lewis, we can!
Photo: Melissa Carlson Forgey/ Rolling Stone