Some good will follow all the unrest and sadness that took place in 2020. Part of that unrest were the many protests against racist violence, which included the long-overdue downing of several Confederate statues and monuments across the country. Last year was also characterized by sadness for the many lives lost, like that of Rep. John Lewis who died of pancreatic cancer at 80.
According to CNN, the DeKalb County of Commissioners has recently approved plans to build a memorial in Decatur, Georgia to honor Lewis, who represented Georgia’s 5th congressional district in the House for over 30 years. Even better, the memorial to the longtime Congressman and civil rights icon will replace a 30-foot Confederate monument that stood in front of the DeKalb County Courthouse for over a century before it was finally taken down last June amid protests against racial injustice.
“John was a giant of a man, with a humble heart,” DeKalb Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson said in a statement. “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.”
There is no question that he does. As a young man on the frontlines of civil rights movement, Lewis was battered by police while marching for voting rights in Selma, Alabama on a day in 1965 that would go on to be remembered as “Bloody Sunday.” He went on to dedicate the rest of his life to the expansion and preservation of civil rights.
In comparison, the monument that once stood before the DeKalb courthouse was an obelisk erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy to celebrate the treasonous men who fought against the U.S. so they could keep enslaving Black people. Despite a Georgia law that was passed in 2019 to protect Confederate monuments, the massive obelisk was removed last year after a judge ruled it a public nuisance and safety threat.
Further details about the forthcoming memorial to Lewis have not been announced, CNN reports. However, another public structure in the South could be dedicated to the beloved civil rights champion in the near future. Legislators in Alabama are now considering a measure to rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge—the site of the “Bloody Sunday” protests which bears the name of a Confederate general who was also a Ku Klux Klan leader—in Lewis’ honor.