A statue of John Lewis will replace the site of a Confederate monument in Georgia.
World-renowned sculptor Basil Watson has been commissioned to create the statue of the civil rights legend, which is expected to be completed by 2024, CNN reported.
The 16-foot-tall statue will be erected in the Decatur congressional district that Lewis represented for 17 terms. Previously at this location, there was a Confederate Obelisk that stood there for over 100 years until it was removed in 2020.
“A monument that represented bigotry, division and hatred will be replaced by a monument to a man who loved, who loved this nation and brought all people of all colors together,” DeKalb County Executive Michael Thurmond said at the during a ceremony on December 29.
The memorial will be located in the walkway approaching the Historic Decatur Court House, according to the John Lewis Tribute website.
The statue placed there before was a 30-foot stone obelisk erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1908.
Following the killing of George Floyd and calls from Beacon Hill Decatur and Decatur High School students, Superior Court Judge Clarence Seeliger ordered the removal of the obelisk on June 18, 2020.
In 2021, the John Lewis Memorial Group announced plans to build a tribute to the veteran MP. The committee put out a national call for artists and announced on Thursday that Mr Watson had been selected.
Mr. Watson is originally from Jamaica but has been working in Atlanta for the past two decades.
“I am very proud and honored to be chosen to portray John Lewis,” said Mr Watson. Alive11 News. “I hope it’s a meaningful contribution to the history of Civil Rights and justice and equality in…not just Atlanta, but the United States and the world.”
The sculptor, who has previously been commissioned to work on statues of many high-profile figures including Martin Luther King and Usain Bolt, said he had briefly met Lewis before his death in 2020.
“Everyone was so excited. We spoke for maybe 30 seconds but it left an impression,” Mr Watson said at the ceremony after it was announced he had been commissioned. “The story of John Lewis is a powerful story that needs to be told.”
Lewis served nearly three decades representing Georgia’s 5th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 1987 until his death in 2020. He was often hailed by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as “the conscience of Congress” for his unwavering commitment to his constituents.