Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) released a statement in response to comments made by Rep. Tommy Benton (R-Jefferson) about the late Congressman John Lewis during an interview on WJJC (1270 AM) in Commerce.
From the interview, as transcribed by the AJC:
Benton: “I notice that there’s a movement to replace Alexander Stephens’ statue in Washington D.C. with that of John Lewis. I would suggest that before they do something like that, that they take a pilgrimage down to Crawfordville and visit the Alexander Stephens museum, and read all the stuff that he did do.
“Now, the other person they’re talking about replacing his statue with — I have never read of a significant piece of legislation that was passed with his name on it.”
Host: “Who is that?”
Benton: “John Lewis. His only claim to fame was that he got conked on the head at the [Edmund] Pettus bridge. And he has milked that for 50 years — or he milked it for 50 years.”
The statement by Speaker Ralston:
“I have today relieved Representative Tommy Benton from his position as Chairman of the House Retirement Committee. The comments made by Representative Benton are offensive and disgusting. These comments do not reflect the values or the views of the House Majority Caucus. I can neither condone nor ignore such hurtful remarks.
“Congressman John Lewis spent a lifetime of public service advancing equality for all. He stood with Dr. King to fight for civil rights during dangerous times for which he paid a brutal price.”
—Speaker David Ralston