Georgia’s civic elite paid homage to our state’s greatest son at the unveiling of the Martin Luther King Jr. state on the Capitol grounds.
Nathan Deal, Kasim Reed, Bernice King, Casey Cagle, David Ralston and Calvin Smyre all recognized the symbolism of the statue–and the act of unveiling a statue of the civil rights movement’s leader in today’s political climate.
The statue overlooks MLK Drive and if it stood on its tiptoes could see Dr. King’s childhood home and Ebeneezer Baptist Church where he preached.
“There’s God in that” Mayor Reed said in his opening remarks.
Gov. Nathan Deal took particular effort to stress how far Georgia has come thanks to King’s efforts. “Our actions today reflect the evolved mindset of our state,” Deal said.
Bernice King, the youngest of MLK’s children, put the event in today’s context, noting the parallels to King’s time and today’s racially-charged climate.
“This statue unveiled today provides a sense of hope for a nation that is in turmoil,” King said in the most spirited speech of the day. “Martin Luther King is providing a sense of direction.”
Speaker Ralston said today, which not coincidentally is the 54th anniversary of King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, “took too long to get here.” He acknowledged the poor history of race relations in Georgia adding: “we cannot reclaim or change those days but we can learn from them.”
Lt. Gov. Cagle extolled King as bigger than the state, calling him: “a statesman so great he’s claimed by an entire nation. His melodic words moved stone mountains.” (Emphasis added).
Calvin Smyre led the legislative effort to honor King at the Capitol and said “today is a defining moment in our state’s history let us not squander it.”