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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signs a bill into law that replaces the state's two statues in a U.S. Capitol display with statues of civil rights leader Daisy Bates and country musician Johnny Cash, Thursday, April 11, 2019, in Little Rock, Ark. The governor was joined by friends and family of Bates and Cash, including the singer's daughter, musician Rosanne Cash, and the activist's goddaughter, Jan Brown. The Bates and Cash statues in the Capitol's National Statuary Hall Collection will replace statues of attorney Uriah Milton Rose and former Gov. and Sen. James Paul Clarke. (AP Photo/Hannah Grabenstein)

LITTLE ROCK — Statues of civil rights leader Daisy Bates and country singer Johnny Cash — two of Arkansas' most celebrated icons — are headed to Washington, D.C., to represent the state in a U.S. Capitol display.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Thursday signed into law a bill that will swap out the state's current statues at the Capitol's National Statuary Hall Collection, which are of 19th century attorney Uriah Rose and former Arkansas Gov. and Sen. James P. Clarke, with the statues of Bates and Cash.

"This is an extraordinary moment recognizing the contributions of two incredible Arkansans," said Hutchinson, who was joined at the signing ceremony by friends and family of Bates and Cash. "We want our memories, through our statues, to tell the story of Arkansas. I believe our story is well represented by these two historic figures."

Bates was an activist, writer and mentor to the nine black children who integrated Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Cash, who died in 2003, grew up in Dyess, which is about 131 miles northeast of Little Rock.

Cash's daughter, the singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash, said her family was honored, noting that for her father, Dyess was "the wellspring from which he drew his inspiration."

"He said quite often that he loved every rock, every tree, every clot of earth in Dyess, Arkansas," she said.

[RELATED: Complete Democrat-Gazette coverage of the Arkansas Legislature]

She also said it was even more special that he would share the honor with Bates, who died in 1999.

Bates' 87-year-old goddaughter, Jan Brown, said she was thrilled that her godmother's statue would join that of her fellow civil rights leader and friend, Rosa Parks, at the Capitol. Congress authorized the statue of Parks in 2005, and it was unveiled eight years later.

"For her to join that black lady means everything to me," Brown said. "Everything."

The National Statuary Hall Collection features two statues from each state. Arkansas sent the statue of Rose in 1917 and the statue of Clarke in 1921.

Clarke's great-great grandson, Clarke Tucker, who ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for central Arkansas congressional seat last year, said the statue should be replaced and condemned an 1894 speech in which his ancestor said that Southerners looked to the Democratic Party "to preserve the white standards of civilization."

The state will now need to raise the funds for the statues either through appropriation or private donation.

Read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.


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Archived Comments

  • MaxCady
    April 11, 2019 at 3:48 p.m.

    Love me some Johnny Cash!! Awesome news!!

  • baskethilt
    April 11, 2019 at 5:11 p.m.

    Why not Winthrop Rockefeller instead of Cash? He did so much more for AR than Cash did or ever could have done.

    The Ledge, always an embarrassment, has done it again. Worse, the gov joined the pack on this one. Who will do Cash? Will he have a half smoked cigarette hanging out his mouth?

  • RBBrittain
    April 11, 2019 at 8:26 p.m.

    I woulda preferred replacing Clarke with Bates now and waiting till Bill Clinton passes on so he can replace Rose (as North Carolina did with Billy Graham); Rockefeller would have also been a good choice. That said, I'm not gonna complain about Cash; he wasn't anywhere nesr as bad a character as some people make him out to be, and my dad was a fan of his. (Hint: The only times he was in ANY prison, much less Folsom Prison, were when he played there.)

  • RBBrittain
    April 11, 2019 at 8:27 p.m.


  • Csveta7
    April 11, 2019 at 10:25 p.m.

    I think it’s well and good that both Daisy Bates and Johnny Cash are being honored.

  • jumpedcut
    April 11, 2019 at 11:05 p.m.

    So good for Arkansas - with a statue of Daisy Bates we are the only the second state to put in a statue of an African American in the Capitol (the statues of MLK and Rosa Parks were put there by Congress. Last year Florida switched out one of its statues to honor a Civil Rights Activist).

  • MaxCady
    April 11, 2019 at 11:21 p.m.

    Rockefeller?? A carpet baggin' New Yorker?? Maybe it's because he's not a native Arkansan. Not one for the arts are you, Basketcase?

  • SeanJohn
    April 12, 2019 at 11:18 a.m.

    Both good choices. Always been a fan of Cash. Read his autobiography a few months ago and was really impressed by the people he knew and worked with, the love he had for people of all races and nationalities and the contributions he made to music.