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Martin Luther King Jr. statue unveiled at Georgia Capitol

August 28,2017

Source: Dave Williams, Atlanta Business Chronicle

On the 54th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, a statue of the slain civil rights leader and Atlanta native was unveiled Monday on the grounds of the Georgia Capitol.

"This day took much too long to get here," Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, who helped steer legislation commissioning the King statute through the General Assembly, said during a ceremony at the site of the new statue overlooking Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. "But from those days, we can grow and learn."

The unveiling of a statue honoring a leader known for preaching non-violence took place during a climate of national divisiveness touched off by violence in Charlottesville, Va., earlier this month during a demonstration by white supremacists protesting the city's plan to remove a statue honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. One person was killed and another injured when a man crashed his car into a crowd of counter-demonstrators.

That didn't go unnoticed by those who spoke at Monday's ceremony.

"It is apropos that today in the state of Georgia, which was once a Confederate state, we are unveiling a statue to a man who represents liberty, justice, freedom, righteousness and equality," said the Rev. Bernice King, CEO of The King Center and King's youngest daughter. "This statue, I believe, provides a sense of hope to a nation that is in turmoil once again."

King joined Gov. Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and state Rep. Calvin Smyre, D-Columbus, chairman of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Tribute Committee, in unveiling the statue.

Deal noted the statue depicts King "in mid-stride, with his face focused forward toward a better future."

The Coca-Cola Co., the Atlanta and Georgia apartment associations and the Martin Luther King Jr. Advisory Council donated the funds for the statue.