GROUPS FIGHT AGAINST STAT­UES

The Telegraph (Macon) - - Front Page - BY JEFF MARTIN

A coali­tion of civil rights groups is us­ing this year’s Su­per Bowl in a fight to re­move Con­fed­er­ate mon­u­ments around the na­tion.

A coali­tion of civil rights groups in At­lanta is us­ing this year’s Su­per Bowl to help kick off a re­newed “war on the Con­fed­er­acy,” in a fight to re­move Con­fed­er­ate mon­u­ments around the na­tion.

The groups on Thursday an­nounced a planned Feb. 2 rally on the eve of the cham­pi­onship foot­ball game be­ing hosted in the city.

The coali­tion in­tends to bring its mes­sage to fans who will pour into At­lanta for Su­per Bowl 53 on Feb. 3.

“There’s no bet­ter time to have this con­ver­sa­tion – so­cial jus­tice con­ver­sa­tion – than right be­fore the largest event in the world, the Su­per Bowl,” said Ger­ald Griggs of the Ge­or­gia chap­ter of the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion for the Ad­vance­ment of Col­ored Peo­ple.

“We are call­ing for the re­moval of all mon­u­ments to the Con­fed­er­acy and we are pre­pared to bring our mes­sage di­rectly to the world as the world de­scends upon At­lanta, Ge­or­gia for the pur­pose of cel­e­brat­ing the Su­per Bowl,” Griggs added. “We can­not have a united coun­try un­til we re­move the sym­bols that di­vide this coun­try.”

The South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter says there are 1,747 Con­fed­er­ate sym­bols and 722 mon­u­ments in the U.S. It says Virginia, Texas and Ge­or­gia lead the na­tion in hav­ing the most Con­fed­er­ate sym­bols.

Those sym­bols and mon­u­ments do not de­pict a bal­anced view of his­tory, said the Rev. Tim McDon­ald, pas­tor of At­lanta’s First Ico­nium Bap­tist Church.

“His­tory is al­ways de­ter­mined by who writes it – the one who won, or the one who lost,” McDon­ald said at Thursday’s news con­fer­ence. “When it comes to these sym­bols, we’ve al­lowed the ones who lost the war to write the nar­ra­tive. And they’ve writ­ten a nar­ra­tive of hate, of di­vi­sive­ness.”

The group is also push- ing for leg­is­la­tion in Ge­or­gia that would al­low lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties to de­ter­mine the fate of their Con­fed­er­ate mon­u­ments, and not the state.

In the At­lanta sub­urb of De­catur, city lead­ers in 2017 voted to move a 30-foot-tall mon­u­ment to the Con­fed­er­acy from the town square to an­other site. The mon­u­ment de­scribes Con­fed­er­ate sol­diers as “a covenant keep­ing race.” But a Ge­or­gia law pro­hibits such stat­ues from be­ing re­lo­cated, re­moved or al­tered in any way.

Civil rights lead­ers at Thursday’s news con­fer­ence also took aim at Stone Moun­tain, which fea­tures a giant carv­ing of three Con­fed­er­ate lead­ers on horse­back: Jef­fer­son Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jack­son. The speak­ers did not sug­gest specif­i­cally what might be done about the mam­moth sym­bol of the Old South.

As part of the ini­tia­tive, ad­ver­tis­ing agency 22squared has cre­ated an app that’s sched­uled to launch next month. When peo­ple aim their cell­phone cam­eras at a Con­fed­er­ate statue, the app pro­vides quotes and his­tory about the mon­u­ment and al­lows them to share those de­scrip­tions on so­cial me­dia.

“It is time to stop honor­ing the lead­ers of the failed in­sur­rec­tion against Amer­ica, the lead­ers of the failed in­sur­rec­tion to main­tain slav­ery,” said Richard Rose, pres­i­dent of the At­lanta NAACP.

JEFF MARTIN AP

Richard Rose, pres­i­dent of the At­lanta chap­ter of the NAACP, calls for re­moval of Con­fed­er­ate mon­u­ments across the na­tion dur­ing a news con­fer­ence Thursday in At­lanta. His group and oth­ers aim to share that mes­sage by or­ga­niz­ing an At­lanta rally one day be­fore Su­per Bowl 53 is played in the city.

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