For some 100 years, Arkansas was perfectly happy having the statues of two Confederate-era stalwarts—attorney Uriah Milton Rose and statesman James Paul Clarke—represent it to the nation in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol.
But now, it seems the state infamous for the Little Rock Nine and its fight against integration of its public schools is ready to turn a new page.
According to Roll Call, Arkansas will replace the statues of Rose and Clarke with ones honoring civil rights activist Daisy Gatson Bates and musician Johnny Cash.
Bates was the publisher of the African-American newspaper The Arkansas Weekly as well as president of the Arkansas chapter of the NAACP. Cash was an award-winning country music artist who was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Now, while many lawmakers and activists around the country have been calling for the removal of statues and other remnants of the Confederacy …
… the lawmaker who sponsored the bill to replace Arkansas’ statues told Roll Call that was not what inspired him exactly.
Arkansas state Sen. David Wallace — calling both Rose, who remained loyal to Arkansas despite its succeeding from the Union, and Clarke, a 19th century governor who held openly racist views “fine gentlemen” — indicated his support of the change was more about name recognition.
“The statues there in the hall now are of two fine gentlemen, but they are of a different era,” Wallace said. “That’s nothing against them, but their time has faded.”
And the change won’t take place for at least a few years while funds are raised or allocated to construct the new statues.