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Civil Rights Advocate Daisy Bates and Musician Johnny Cash to Substitute Arkansas Statues

Daisy Bates and Johnny Cash to replace Arkansas statues (Credits: Los Angeles Times)

Five years ago, Arkansas lawmakers made a remarkable decision to replace the statues representing the state at the U.S. Capitol. The existing sculptures, obscure figures from the state’s history, had stood there for over a century without much recognition.

Former Governor Asa Hutchinson, recalling his experiences giving tours to constituents, noted that the previous statues failed to resonate with visitors, who often expressed unfamiliarity with the depicted figures. Thus, the decision was made to replace them with more iconic representations of Arkansas.

Civil rights leader Daisy Bates, singer Johnny Cash to be honored with statues at US Capitol (Credits: FOX 10 Phoenix)

The new statues will depict civil rights leader Daisy Bates and musician Johnny Cash, both of whom have left indelible marks on Arkansas history. Bates, renowned for her leadership in the fight for school desegregation, mentored the Little Rock Nine and played a pivotal role in the integration of Central High School in 1957.

Her legacy as a civil rights figure in Arkansas is celebrated through various commemorations, including Daisy Bates Day.

The statue of Bates, crafted by sculptor Benjamin Victor, captures her reason as a fearless advocate for equality. With meticulous attention to detail, Victor’s sculpture aims to inspire visitors to learn more about Bates’ remarkable life and contributions to civil rights.

Similarly, Johnny Cash, born in Kingsland, Arkansas, and revered for his multifaceted musical career, will be commemorated with a statue at the Capitol. Sculpted by Little Rock artist Kevin Kresse, Cash’s statue portrays him with a guitar slung across his back and a Bible in hand, symbolizing his profound impact on music and spirituality.

Statues of Johnny Cash and Daisy Bates to replace controversial statues in U.S. Capitol (Credits: Washington Times)

The decision to replace the previous statues, depicting James P. Clarke and Uriah Rose, came after scrutiny over Clarke’s racist remarks and calls for their removal by both Republican and Democratic lawmakers. The selection of Bates and Cash as replacements reflects a desire to honor figures who represent the diverse and impactful legacy of Arkansas.

Sen. David Wallace, who sponsored the legislation for the new statues, emphasized the importance of choosing representations that reflect the common people of Arkansas. Bates and Cash, with their enduring legacies, embody the spirit of resilience and progress that defines the state’s history.

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