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Lawmaker Defends Confederacy Measure, Blames Media For Backlash

Rep. Tommy Benton, R - Jefferson, is the sponsor of a resolution memorializing Georgia's Confederate history.
Rep. Tommy Benton, R - Jefferson, is the sponsor of a resolution memorializing Georgia's Confederate history.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press
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The state representative who introduced a resolution honoring the confederacy in Georgia blames the media for backlash against the measure.

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The resolution, which would recognize April as Confederate History Month and rename April 26 Confederate Memorial Day, doesn’t mention “slavery” or the “Civil War.” Instead, it says, it honors the “four-year struggle for state’s rights, individual freedom, and local government control.”

State Rep. Tommy Benton, who introduced House Resolution 644, said his proposal honors Southern heritage, and added that he’s not creating anything new.

“The media has seemed to go out of it’s way to try and make this something that it’s not,” Benton said. “We are not creating anything that’s not already in code. Confederate Memorial Day has been celebrated since 1874.”

Last year, Gov. Nathan Deal removed “Confederate Memorial Day” from the official state holiday calendar. The holiday didn’t go away, but the name did. Now the calendar just says “state holiday.”

The resolution, co sponsored by state Reps. Alan Powell, Steve Tarvin and Jesse Petrea, has been condemned by the Georgia NAACP and members of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus.

“This resolution is about hatred and racism,” Democratic Rep. Sandra Scott, vice chair of the legislative black caucus, told the Associated Press. “It is about glorifying a culture that found slavery acceptable.”

This is not the first resolution Benton has introduced honoring the confederacy. Last year, he drew national attention after telling the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Ku Klux Klan “made a lot of people straighten up.”

The Associated Press contributed to the report.