Walmart is trying to remove Arkansas’ U.S. Capitol statues, which are linked to the Confederacy, and replace them with those of icons Johnny Cash and civil rights activist Daisy Bates.
The discount giant, which was founded in Arkansas in 1962 and remains headquartered there, is donating $100,000 toward replacing the statues of Confederate defenders former governor James P. Clarke and attorney Uriah Rose, ABC News reported.
“We support the effort by the state legislature and Governor [Asa] Hutchinson to honor two prominent Arkansans, civil rights pioneer Daisy Bates and music legend Johnny Cash, with statues in National Statuary Hall,” Walmart spokeswoman Anne Hatfield said in a statement to the outlet about the private sector donation.
The donation comes amid nationwide unrest following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, and subsequent protests against police brutality and racial inequality. People have either toppled or called for the removal of many Civil War-era statues across the U.S.
Hutchinson’s efforts though predate the current climate.
In April 2019, the Republican governor signed into a law a bill which would replace Clarke and Rose with the Grammy winner and activist, The Associated Press reports.
“We want our memories, through our statues, to tell the story of Arkansas,” Hutchinson said at the time. “I believe our story is well represented by these two historic figures.”
Arkansas said last year that the state needed time to fund the new statues, and as of this month, Clarke and Rose remain in the Capitol, according to a list of the statues on the National Statuary’s website.
Bates, who died in 1999, was once the president of the state’s NAACP chapter and she played a significant role in desegregation efforts, during which she served as an advisor to the first nine Black students who were enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The students are also known as the Little Rock Nine.
Cash, a country and rock and roll icon, died in 2003 and remains one of the nation’s best-selling musicians in history. Over his career he won 13 Grammys and was nominated for 35.
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