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Artists Selected For U.S. Capitol Statues Of Daisy Bates And Johnny Cash

Small models of statues made by the sculptors Benjamin Victor of Daisy Bates (left) and Kevin Kresse of Johnny Cash.
Arkansas National Statuary Hall Steering Committee

Arkansas is ready to change its sculptures in the National Statuary Hall Collection in the U.S. Capitol, and sculptors have been selected. The two statues in the Hall, those of U.M. Rose and James P. Clarke, will be replaced with civil rights icon Daisy Gatson Bates and hall-of-fame musician Johnny Cash.

The selection review committee for the National Statuary Hall statues of Bates and Cash met Monday to review and evaluate final scores of the finalists for each sculpture. Based on these scores, the selection review committee recommended to Secretary of State John Thurston that Benjamin Victor of Boise, Idaho, be selected to design and create the statue of Bates. The selection review committee also recommended that Kevin Kresse of Little Rock be selected to design and create the statue of Cash.

Thurston reviewed and accepted the committee’s recommendations and will begin contractual negotiations with the selected respondents, he said. A timetable for completing the statues was not released. More than $500,000 was raised for the statue work, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in November.

Cash will be the first musician in the Hall. His statue will be placed in the Hall Visitor Center, National Statuary Hall Steering Committee Chairman Shane Broadway said. Bates will be placed next to a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and adjacent to another civil rights icon Rosa Parks. The committee has worked for about a year with the families and officials with the Hall to place and construct the statues.

Johnny Cash Daisy Bates
Credit Library of Congress/ National Park Service
Singer Johnny Cash outside of his boyhood home in Dyess, Ark. and activist Daisy Bates outside of Little Rock's Central High School.

Bates is considered a pillar in the Arkansas civil rights movement. She, along with her husband, Lucious Christopher (L.C.) Bates, started the weekly newspaper, the Arkansas State Press, in 1941. It would become the largest African-American newspaper in the state and focused on journalism related issues. It had a statewide reach, distributing in cities such as Little Rock, Pine Bluff, Texarkana, Helena, Forrest City, and Jonesboro.

The U.S. Congress authorized the creation of the Hall in 1864 and each state is allowed two statues. Up to 5 million people from around the world visit the Hall each year.

U.M Rose (1834-1913) was an attorney who founded the Arkansas Bar Association and Rose Law Firm. He was appointed to serve as an ambassador during the Second Hague Peace Conference in 1907 by then President Theodore Roosevelt. James P. Clarke (1854-1916) was a former governor and a defender of white supremacy during his time as a public figure.

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