Ga. Governor Candidates On Confederate Monuments, Stone Mountain | WABE 90.1 FM

Ga. Governor Candidates On Confederate Monuments, Stone Mountain

Aug 16, 2017

Candidates for governor in Georgia are divided on how to handle Confederate monuments.

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Democrat Rep. Stacey Abrams is calling for the carvings of Confederate leaders to be removed from the side of Stone Mountain.

Democratic Rep. Stacey Evans didn’t go that far but suggested changes are needed to the current state law that protects Confederate monuments.

There’s currently a petition circulating calling on the Legislature to do that.

Republicans had less to say about the issue.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and state Sen. Hunter Hill all acknowledged problems with what Confederate monuments represent. But say they should stay up, so that history isn't forgotten.

Republican state Sen. Michael Williams suggested once Confederate monuments are removed, monuments to figures like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington would be removed as well.

You can see full versions of statements from the candidates in the 2018 governor's race below:

Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp: “I unequivocally condemn hatred, violence, and bigotry, and find claims of racial superiority to be indefensible and contrary to the highest ideals of our country.  As for the monuments, I believe the same as former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that it's best to 'keep your history before you.' We should learn from the past -- not attempt to rewrite it.” 

Republican Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle: "Take a trip to Stone Mountain today and you'll see a diverse group Georgians enjoying a great cultural attraction. The state has taken great strides to offer exhibits and presentations that give a fuller and more inclusive view of our state's rich history. Instead of dividing Georgians with inflammatory rhetoric for political gain, we should work together to add to our history, not take from it." 

Republican state Sen. Hunter Hill: "The events in Charlottesville over the weekend were horrifying. Racists and hate-filled ideologies represent ignorance and evil. Violence has no place in our society. Unfortunately, erasing hatred from our country is far more complicated than simply removing monuments in our communities. Rather, we must understand the complexities of our past, while acknowledging and learning from our failures. Georgia's future relies on our willingness to work together despite the scars of our past." 

Republican state Sen. Michael Williams: "What's next? Blowing up the Jefferson Memorial and knocking down the Washington Monument? This is more media generated nonsense to create controversy to boost your ratings. The real story is, when will Casey Cagle break his silence and join Michael Williams in denouncing the Charlottesville domestic terrorism and racism? Leadership means tackling difficult issues. If Casey cannot address this, how can we trust him to govern?" 

Democrat state Rep. Stacey Abrams via email on Monday, Aug. 14: "We must never celebrate those who defended slavery and tried to destroy the Union. Confederate monuments belong in museums where we can study and reflect on that terrible history, not in places of honor across our state."  

Rep. Abrams on Twitter, Tuesday, Aug. 15: "The removal of the bass relief of Confederates from Stone Mountain has been a constant debate since the state bought the property in 1958. Paid for by founders of the 2nd KKK, the monument had no purpose other than celebration of racism, terror & division when carved in 1915.  We must never celebrate those who defended slavery and tried to destroy the Union. Confederate monuments belong in museums where we can study and reflect on that terrible history, not in places of honor across our state. The managers of Stone Mountain have taken steps to educate with a powerful audio tour to return the listener to the horrors of slavery.  But the visible image of Stone Mountain's edifice remains a blight on our state and should be removed. State leg led by the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus have pushed for action for decades. I supported action then & I renew calls now."

Democratic state Rep. Stacey Evans: "Georgians must unite around what connects us rather than cling to what divides us.  We must always commemorate the past with an eye towards the future, which means we can — and must — honor the past without memorializing hate.  

I am in favor of HB 760, which was sponsored by my good friend and supporter, Representative LaDawn Jones.  This legislation would require the agency overseeing Stone Mountain Park to maintain an appropriate, inclusive, and historically accurate memorial to the Civil War — not the Confederacy. 

I also believe we should repeal any provision of Georgia law that restricts state or local governments from altering or removing local monuments or street names that glorify the Confederacy, so we can ensure that these memorials are given the appropriate historical context and do not glorify a hateful past.   

Overall, we must always commemorate history in context, especially around the Civil War and slavery. And we must never lose sight of the fact that slavery and the racism and state-enforced oppression of African Americans that followed it are a terrible shame for our nation and we must work every day to eliminate the harm caused and finally achieve real equality for everyone.

I’m proud to have the support of former Governor Roy Barnes, who sacrificed his re-election to do right by Georgia and take down Georgia’s segregation-era state flag.  The Georgia Legislative Black Caucus has been leading on the issue of how the state can heal our shameful past when it comes to treatment of African Americans, and I look forward to working with them as Governor to move our state forward.

As Governor, helping lead the dialogue on these issues will be one of my most important tasks.  I have been, and will always be, a champion to Georgians who wish to promote equality, healing, and respect."