Some Georgia State University students are calling for the removal of the Henry W. Grady monument because of his controversial views on race.
In an open letter published in the student newspaper, The Signal, several student organizations ask Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to look at removing the monument that sits in downtown at Marietta and Forsyth.
The conversation was sparked about a month ago, when The Signal’s staff received complaints about Grady’s strong support for white supremacy during Reconstruction. Editor-in-chief Daniel Varitek says once they found the complaints to be true, they felt it need to be brought to the forefront.
“Once we actually started to put pen to paper, we realized that all of this was true,” Varitek said. “Despite what many may have you believe, Grady is not an outstanding character in our city’s history. Grady is actually a brazen racist and white supremacist. And so then, we asked the question of ourselves why is he being civically revered in a public square with a statue that towers over our city?”
Removing the statue might be a tough task. Earlier this year, state lawmakers passed SB77, which made it illegal to remove monuments. Varitek says the conversation would lead to changes and other alternatives in addressing the issue.
“We would like a plaque erected adjacent to the statue that places Henry Grady’s legacy in the least into historical context, Varitek said. “Secondly, we would like to see Mayor Bottoms come out and oppose this state law. And thirdly, we would like to see eventually that this statue relocated. But, we understand that it’s presently illegal to do that.”
Grady made his name as the managing editor of The Atlanta Constitution and a renowned public speaker.
Today, several buildings and schools bear Grady’s name including Grady High School, Grady Memorial Hospital, and the University of Georgia School of Journalism and Mass Communications. The College of Journalism describes Grady as a legendary Atlanta journalist who often spoke and wrote about the need to shift away from slavery.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct the name of The Signal’s editor-in-chief Daniel Varitek.