MLK to get a new memorial at Ga. State Capitol

8:08 AM, Jan 20, 2014   |    comments
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  • 2006 State Capitol MLK portrait
  • Statue of Tom Watson
  • Former location of Tom Watson statue
  • Georgia State Rep. Tyrone Brooks (D-Atlanta)
  • Governor Nathan Deal (R-Georgia)
    

ATLANTA -- After more than 80 years as the Georgia State Capitol's most prominent statue, the likeness of 19th century white supremacist politician and newspaperman Tom Watson was quietly removed the day after Thanksgiving.

That prompted some civil rights leaders to ask that it be replaced with a statue of Martin Luther King, Jr.

State Representative Tyrone Brooks (D-Atlanta) even introduced a bill to make it happen.

"He's on the mall in Washington, between Washington and Lincoln; he's inside the U.S. Capitol; he's around the world," Brooks said.

But his bill may not be necessary.

11Alive News has confirmed Dr. King will soon be honored with some type of tribute at the Capitol.

A source involved in the talks told 11Alive the move has been, "in the works for quite a few months now," and originated within the Georgia Republic Party.

A large portrait of King was placed inside the Capitol by Republican Governor Sonny Perdue in 2006, replacing a much smaller portrait from 1974.

It's still not clear if the new memorial could be a statue, or possibly naming a new public demonstration area to be built at the site of the old Capitol parking deck.

But whatever form it takes, our source said it will be "an appropriate way to honor Dr. King and his legacy."

One of the speakers at Monday's MLK service at Ebenezer Baptist Church will be Republican Governor Nathan Deal, who's running for re-election.

Last May, he told the State GOP Convention in Athens his party needed to recognize the growing number of minorities in schools.

"If we don't reach out to them, then shame on us," Deal said.

It's not clear whether the governor will mention any new tribute to Dr. King when he speaks at Monday's MLK service, but he's the one behind the recent quiet relocation of the Tom Watson statue from in front of the State Capitol.

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