The committee considering what to do with Atlanta’s Confederate monuments holds its first public comment session Wednesday night, and some members of the city’s civil rights community are ready to speak up.
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Richard Rose, president of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP, plans to attend and share his thoughts.
For one, he’s bothered by the committee’s makeup: a majority of its 11 members selected by Mayor Kasim Reed and the City Council are white.
It’s an issue Rose raised in an open letter last month. A response from Reed’s office stressed the process would be open to all members of the community.
Rose also doesn’t see much for the committee to discuss.
“I mean, we don’t need a committee to talk about what to do with celebrations to the failed insurrection against America, which is what the Civil War was,” he said.
For Rose it’s simple: all of Atlanta’s Confederate monuments need to go — street names like Confederate Avenue, included.
But there’s a hitch: state law prevents moving or altering Confederate monuments. It’s the result of a compromise lawmakers negotiated when Georgia took the Confederate battle symbol off the state flag in 2001.
Rose hopes the committee will make some effort to challenge that law.
“Let’s challenge the Legislature to correct these wrongs. Let’s not have another generation of racial oppression sanctioned by state, local and county governments,” he said.
That hope might be in vain. At its first meeting last month, the committee’s chair, Atlanta History Center CEO Sheffield Hale, said its job was just to make recommendations.
It will be up to Reed and the City Council to take any action.
The public meeting starts at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Atlanta City Hall. The committee will hold another public meeting Nov. 8 and plans to deliver its recommendations later in the month.