Task force backs John Lewis tribute at Decatur Confederate monument site

The spot where a Confederate obelisk once stood on the grounds of the DeKalb County courthouse in Decatur. DeKalb Superior Court Judge Clarence Seeliger declared the monument that was erected in 1908 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, to be a public nuisance that should be removed. JOHN AMIS FOR THE AJC
The spot where a Confederate obelisk once stood on the grounds of the DeKalb County courthouse in Decatur. DeKalb Superior Court Judge Clarence Seeliger declared the monument that was erected in 1908 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, to be a public nuisance that should be removed. JOHN AMIS FOR THE AJC

A tribute to late congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis could one day rise at the same DeKalb County site where a Confederate monument stood for more than a century.

Last fall, DeKalb County Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson and Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett assembled a task force of some two dozen people to determine the best way to honor Lewis. Lewis, who died in July after a battle with pancreatic cancer, represented the 5th Congressional District, which includes a large portion of DeKalb County, for more than three decades.

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In the wake of Lewis’ death, various community groups and advocates suggested that Lewis be honored outside the historic DeKalb County courthouse on the Decatur square, in the same spot where a long-standing Confederate obelisk was removed about a month before his passing.

The task force agreed.

A resolution set to be considered Tuesday by the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners backs the group’s recommendation and calls the former Confederate monument site “the most fitting” location for a memorial to the civil rights leader.

What, exactly, the memorial may consist of and other details about its creation are yet to be determined. The Decatur-based Beacon Hill Alliance for Human Rights has proposed a statue of a young Lewis in the trench coat and backpack he wore while crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, in 1965.

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