Country music legend Johnny Cash and civil rights leader Daisy Gatson Bates will soon be immortalized as statues in the US Capitol building, replacing two controversial Confederate-era figures.
Each state is allowed to keep two statues of historical figures in the National Statuary Hall of the Capitol Building, and Bates and Cash will represent Arkansas.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a bill last week, replacing the state’s current statues of U.M. Rose and James Paul Clarke with individuals the legislature felt better represented Arkansas’s modern history.
“Most everyone who was involved in the discussion agreed we needed to update the statues with representatives of our more recent history. But there were many opinions about which historic figures best represented our state,” Hutchinson said in a press release. “The debate was lively and healthy. In the end, the Senate chose Daisy Lee Gatson Bates and Johnny Cash.”
The addition of Bates and Cash represents the state’s history involving the civil rights movement and music, Hutchinson said.
“Those two great historic figures who made such a difference in Arkansas in their own way are appropriate people to tell part of the story of Arkansas in our nation’s Capitol,” Hutchinson said.
The statues of Rose and Clarke have been in the Capitol for more than 100 years. Rose, a prominent lawyer who served as head of the American Bar Association, opposed secession during the Civil War but remained loyal to Arkansas, a Confederate state.
Clarke was the state’s 18th governor and later represented Arkansas in the US Senate. Clarke’s descendants called for the removal of his statue last year, citing the former politician’s belief in white supremacy.
Other Confederate-era statues remain in the Capitol, including the former president of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis and General Robert E. Lee.