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John Lewis Memorial Taskforce raising money for statue of Civil Rights hero

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John Lewis Memorial Taskforce raising money for statue of Civil Rights hero

The John Lewis mural painted by Sean Schwab in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood of Atlanta, ,July 29, 2020. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Decatur, GA — The task force working to erect a statue honoring the late Rep. John Lewis is hosting a virtual kick-off event at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 19.

A Civil Right activist, Lewis is known for marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., in March 1965 with storied politician Hosea L. Williams. It’s the famous image from Bloody Sunday of young John Lewis donning a trench coat and backpack that is being considered for a statue in Decatur.

Lewis’ memorial will replace the Confederate monument that residents considered a call-back to the South’s Jim Crow era.

The Confederate obelisk was erected in 1908 by A. Evans Camp of the Confederate Veterans, with funds raised by the Agnes Lee Chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy. Activists had been calling for its removal for nearly three years before its removal in 2020.

The John Lewis Commemorative Task Force is headed up by DeKalb County District 5 Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson and Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett. It’s co-chaired by Garrett and former county CEO Burrell Ellis. The task force was created in Aug. 2020 and “tasked with commemorating Congressman John Lewis through a new public artwork to be installed on the site of a previous Confederate memorial in front of the DeKalb County Courthouse.”

“This commissioned work will provide a symbol of inclusivity and justice in honor of Congressman Lewis’ pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s and his lifelong fight for human rights, dignity, and equality for all people as a Congressman representing Georgia’s 5th Congressional District for over 30 years,” a press release from the task force says.

The free, virtual kickoff event will feature messages from friends and colleagues of Lewis, including Sen. Jon Ossoff, the Chair of the Black Congressional Caucus Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

The program will be broadcast live over DCTV at 7pm on Thursday, August 19. Donations to the project can be made anytime at https://www.johnlewistribute.com/.

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