State GOP wants statue of Billy Graham in U.S. Capitol

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A bill filed by Republican lawmakers in Raleigh would replace a statue of a former governor now widely criticized for his role in the state’s white supremacist campaigns with a statue of Billy Graham, North Carolina’s world-famous evangelist also known for his past anti-Semitic comments and anti-LGBT positions.

Mecklenburg Republican Charles Jeter and House Majority leader Mike Hager (Rutherford) filed the bill this week. It would remove former North Carolina Gov. Charles Brantley Aycock from National Statuary Hall and replace it with Graham.

“He is someone that I think all of North Carolina can be proud of,” Jeter said Friday, according to WRAL.

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The bill asks Congress to make the switch and also creates a committee to raise money for and commission the Graham statue, WRAL said. The committee and fundraising would be overseen by the Charlotte-based Billy Graham Library.

Aycock, governor of the state from 1901 to 1905, was once widely lauded for his public education reform efforts. In recent years, his legacy has been recast as historians, civic leaders, activists and students dig deeper into his connections with and leadership of white supremacist campaigns which disenfranchised black citizens.

Aycock is also connected to the violent 1898 Wilmington Race Riots, when white Democrats attacked the city’s black newspaper, killed as many as 15-60 people in an effort to violently unseat the biracial city government. It has been described as the only successful coup d’etat in U.S. history. State Democrats have in recent years dropped Aycock’s name from an annual fundraiser. Students at Duke University, the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and other schools have also been reevaluating buildings named after the governor.

But Graham’s placement in National Statuary Hall won’t be without controversy either, something Jeter acknowledged with WRAL.

Graham was widely condemned for what many saw as anti-Semitic comments in tape recordings released from the Nixon White House. In those conversations, Graham described Jews as belonging to the “synagogue of Satan,” and agreed with Nixon that Jews controlled Hollywood and the media, blasting them for publishing pornography.

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“This stranglehold has got to be broken or the country’s going down the drain,” Graham told Nixon.

Graham also supported North Carolina’s 2012 constitutional amendment banning marriage for LGBT couples, publishing in ad and launching a campaign to support the amendment in the final days of the campaign in May 2012.

Still, Jeter supports the effort.

“This might be one of the easier things we try to get done this year,” he said. “We think it’s almost a no-brainer.”

National Statuary Hall is in the U.S. Capitol building. Each state is represented by two statues. North Carolina is currently represented by statues of Aycock and former Gov. Zebulon Vance.

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Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.

4 Replies to “State GOP wants statue of Billy Graham in U.S. Capitol”

  1. Gov Aycok allowed the river to red with the blood of African Americans. His statue is a reminder of the dark times in North Carolina and should be removed. As far as Billy Graham, there should be no statue of him because I feel he has shown bias not only against the LGBT but other minorities as well. I feel we should erect a statue of Fred Kirby instead because he was liked my all.

  2. Ms. Covington, while I respect your right to speak openly, it might be good to have the facts and not conjecture from gossip and assumptions people make about others especially through media reports. In the New Testament of the bible, The book of James teaches us about human nature that goes mack over 2500 years ago. I think you might also want to look at the Billy Graham website (BGEA.org) and watch the film on civil rights and Martin Luther King Junior’s relationship with Billy Graham and the fact that Billy Graham did more to tear down the ropes of segregation in the US s well as in South Africa when no white people would stand up to fight.for human rights with Mr. Graham along with the current work being done in Ferguson, Missouri by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’ chaplains of the BG Rapid Response Team. Also examine the work being done around the world for all people through Samaritan’s Purse and BGEA. It’s an open book as are the Grahams. Both Billy Graham and Franklin have made it very clear that they work on behalf of Jesus Christ and to quote Mr. Graham, “Christ belongs to all people.” The bible teaches what sin and how we should live or lives. It also tells us we should not judge others especially what is said in the media when one has never met nor engaged with Billy or Franklin Graham. You might want to visit the Billy Graham Library, talk to the people that work there as well as enjoy the exhibits and then make assumption after you see and hear the true story of Billy Graham.

  3. Replacing one type of supremacist with another. Somehow I do not think 2015 North Carolina citizens will find that something they can all be proud of. Just keep playing those conversations of him and Nixon. Pretty evil stuff.

  4. What happened to the separation of state and religion? I think there are enough unenlightened folks in this state without having Billy Graham looking down on them. As far as I am concerned, a true Christian accepts all as equals and they don’t need to go to such lengths to try to further their homophobic agenda.

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