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DeKalb commission supports John Lewis memorial at site of former Confederate obelisk

The commission approved a resolution on Tuesday to place the monument in front of the Historic DeKalb County Courthouse.

DECATUR, Ga. — A memorial to Rep. John Lewis may soon reside where a Confederate monument once stood in DeKalb County following a county commission vote on Tuesday.

The county commission approved by consent agenda the resolution to have a memorial to the late congressman and Civil Rights leader placed in front of the Historic DeKalb County Courthouse - the site of a former Confederate obelisk that stood at the location for many decades.

That was the recommendation of the John Lewis Commemorative Task Force which worked to find a way to honor the congressman.

The resolution approved by the county commission spoke of his many civil rights accomplishments, his election to Congress, and his bravery when marching from Selma to Montgomery on March 7, 1965, when he and others were attacked.

In addition to being located in a part of DeKalb County Lewis represented, the resolution suggested that the significance of replacing a prominent Confederate monument also held a deeper significance.

"The Obelisk Monument honors the soldiers of the Confederacy, but fails to address the violence, cruelty, and inhumanity of slavery and their acts of sedition against the United States of America, the primary cause for which the Confederacy fought the Civil War," it reads.

The monument was eventually moved from the site, the court describing it as a "figurative lighting rod for friction among citizens, and a potential catastrophe that could happen at any time if individuals attempt to forcibly remove or destroy it."

In 2020, it was moved to storage until an appropriate site for relocation could be found.

Through the recent resolution, proponents described the replacement with a memorial to the late congressman as a "fitting way to commemorate John Lewis's life."

While the resolution was approved, no details about a time frame or design have yet been released. It's unclear what additional steps may be needed or if any additional battles over the state's requirements for memorials may await the plan.

However, the commission's approval is a momentous step for the project. And the significance has also garnered national attention, with Smithsonian Magazine recognizing the move in a recent article.

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