There has been a good deal of discussion lately on the possibility of placing a statute of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the grounds of the Georgia Capitol.
We can think of no one who is more deserving of such an honor.
One sign that such a recognition may be coming sooner than later was the remarks that Gov. Nathan Deal made Monday.
“Not many states can boast a native son who has merited a national holiday,” Deal said. “But we Georgians can. Dr. King lived during a time when the law required discrimination against some of our citizens. That’s why, working with the General Assembly in this 2014 session, I’m committed to finding an appropriate way to honor Dr. King on Capitol Hill.”
Other suggestions include naming a demonstration area near the Capitol after the slain civil rights leader. While that has its appropriateness, it should not keep the state of Georgia from commissioning a statue of King. It is fitting that the man whose work and approach to change unfair laws in the United States should be standing at the center of state government in his hometown of Atlanta.
If the General Assembly approves commissioning and placing the statue, it would join others on the grounds that recognize the contributions of Sen. and Gov. Richard Russell, Gov. Eugene Talmadge, President and Gov. Jimmy Carter and Gov. Ellis Arnall. This is an honor that is long overdue to King.
State Rep. Tyrone Brooks, D-Atlanta, has introduced legislation in the House calling for the statue, suggesting that it could occupy the space that was freed up when Deal ordered the removal of the Capitol grounds statue of Tom Watson in November. Deal’s office said that the relocation of the Watson statue to a park off the grounds was necessary because of needed renovations to the west entrances and the deteriorating steps on that side of the Capitol. Whether that was the actual reason, it was a good move. Watson, who represented Georgia as both a state and federal lawmaker, was a populist in the late 1800s who later turned anti-civil rights, endorsing in his weekly newspaper ideas such as denying African Americans the right to vote and writing editorials denouncing Jews and Catholics.
King has had an incalculable impact not only on Georgia, but on the nation. As his former aide Xernona Clayton said Monday night during the King Day 2014 celebration at the Albany Civic Center, it says something that this influential man is remembered, recognized and honored nearly five decades after his untimely, tragic death.
We hope the governor and state’s lawmakers will approve this honor for King, a man who has inspired people around the world. He was one of Georgia’s best, and it’s time that he was recognized with this level of prominence.
— The Albany Herald Editorial Board