A statue of Billy Graham will likely replace a white supremacist’s statue in the U.S. Capitol
Both chambers of the North Carolina legislature have voted for the statue’s replacement, and North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) is expected to sign the measure.
Congressional guidelines say a statue of a person can only be installed posthumously. Graham, who will turn 97 in November and has struggled with Parkinson’s disease, lives in his home in Montreat, N.C.
A statue of Aycock, a prominent white supremacist, has been at the Capitol since 1932.
“One of the Democratic politicians who wrested control of the state from a coalition of white and black Republicans, he used his oratorical skills to foment resentment of blacks,” a description of Aycock says on a Web site of the University of North Carolina. “Once in power, Aycock and his associates largely disenfranchised blacks through a literacy test and poll tax.”
Each state is permitted to contribute two statues to the Capitol, and 12 states are represented by at least one religious figure, the Charlotte Observer reports. For instance, one of California’s statues is of Junipero Serra, a Spanish missionary who will be canonized by Pope Francis on Wednesday. Mormon leader Brigham Young is the subject of one of two statues from Utah.
North Carolina’s state House also voted for a resolution requesting that the U.S. Postal Service honor Graham with a stamp, according to the Associated Press. Postal officials ended a policy that stamps could not feature someone who is still alive.
If approved, Graham’s statue would join that of Zebulon Vance, who was North Carolina’s governor during and after the Civil War.
A bronze, 9-foot-tall statute of Graham holding a Bible in front of a cross sits on the campus of LifeWay Christian Resources, the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville.
It’s likely that few people will be offended by the honor extended to Graham since he was one of the dominant religious figures of the 20th century, said William Martin, a sociologist at Rice University and a biographer of Graham.
Martin said he has been retained by ABC since 1995 to be available to the network on an exclusive basis at the time of Graham’s death.
Graham has been mostly out of the public eye for several years.
“Outside evangelical circles, knowledge of him is waning daily,” Martin said. “Ten years ago, before I retired from teaching, a minority of my students recognized his name.”