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MARTIN LUTHER KING

A Martin Luther King Jr. statue joined Confederate monuments at Georgia’s Capitol

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A statue honoring civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. now resides on the Georgia State Capitol’s grounds in Atlanta.

A replica of America’s Liberty Bell tolled three times at the eight-foot tall statue of King was unveiled Monday.

The statue’s installation came more than three years after Georgia lawmakers backed the project, and 54 years to the day of King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

The Rev. Bernice King, who is Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter, said her father gave the U.S. hope in a tumultuous time and that the statue of him could do the same today.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R), many of his state’s political leaders and various members of the King family were present for Monday’s unveiling ceremony.

NPR reported Monday that the Martin Luther King Jr. statue joins several monuments on Georgia’s Capitol grounds that honor Confederate and segregationist figures.

Confederate Gen. and alleged Ku Klux Klan (KKK) leader John Brown Gordon has a marker there, as does Sen. Richard Russell Jr. (D-GA).

Russell spent several decades as a leader of Southern opposition to the civil rights movement, including related legislation Martin Luther King Jr. advocated for.

Georgia state Rep. Calvin Smyre (D) said before Monday’s unveiling ceremony that the statue of Martin Luther King Jr. “will inspire and give hope to generations to come.”

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Smyre, a member of Georgia’s Legislative Black Caucus, helped raise money for the statue before its official debut.

Georgia state laws say that street names and monuments honoring the Confederacy or its figures cannot be “relocated, removed, concealed, obscured, or altered in any fashion.”

The Martin Luther King Jr. statue will face northeast from the Capitol grounds and look towards his boyhood home in Atlanta.

The statue will also view his burial site at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where both he and his father served as pastors.

National debate is raging on whether Confederate symbols are important historical relics or painful reminders of racial inequality.

Three people died earlier this month in Charlottesville, Virginia following unrest in the city over the issue.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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