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A Republican lawmaker from Georgia, who was criticized last week for saying the Ku Klux Klan was not racist, has now withdrawn his name from several bills he sponsored to honor the Confederacy.

GOP State Rep. Tommy Benton had previously backed House Resolution 1179, House Bill 855, and House Bill 854.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “House Bill 855 would force the state to formally recognize Confederate Memorial Day and Robert E. Lee’s birthday as public holidays. House Resolution 1179 calls for a constitutional amendment protecting Stone Mountain as a Confederate memorial.”

The third bill backed by State Rep. Benton, House Bill 854, “would require street names changed since 1968 to revert back to their former names if their prior name had honored a veteran.”

Prior to yanking his name off the controversial pieces of legislation, Benton defended the Ku Klux Klan during an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, in which he stated the KKK “made a lot of people straighten up,” and that the Klan “was not so much a racist thing but a vigilante thing to keep law and order.”

On Tuesday’s edition of NewsOne Now, Georgia State NAACP President Francys Johnson joined guest host Jeff Johnson to discuss State Rep. Benton’s comments and the bills crafted to protect Confederate monuments in Georgia.

Despite Georgia State Sen. Josh McKoon condemning Rep. Benton’s comments about the KKK, Francys Johnson said, “There is something missing from the coverage of this story, his (State Rep. Tommy Benton) comments were made last Wednesday and there was a deafening silence throughout the chambers of our General Assembly under what we call the Golden Dome in Atlanta.”

“The Governor was silent, the Lieutenant Governor, the Speaker of the House was silent, and most of the Republican extremists who supported this legislation and who also support the ideals behind the legislation were silent,” Johnson said.

He continued, “This was simply a bridge too far in this hyper political and divisive season of presidential candidates who are knocking themselves over to offend the next group — they believed they were going to get away with this.”

Johnson added, “What they were trying to do – to amend the Constitution to provide greater protections to the largest Confederate monument in this world, Stone Mountain — more protections than we give to citizens who are dying here in the streets.”

According to Georgia’s NAACP President, members of the state legislation were trying to “enshrine Robert E. Lee’s birthday on Martin Luther King Day and they were trying to have a whole month, the month of April, for Confederate Memorial Day.”

Watch Jeff Johnson; Francys Johnson, Georgia State NAACP President; Greg Carr, Chair of Howard University’s Department of Afro-American Studies; Gianno Caldwell, Republican Strategist; Dr. Julianne Malveaux, Economist/President Emerita, Bennett College; and David Swerdlick, Assistant Editor, Washington Post discuss the attempt to revise history and protect Confederate monuments in the video clip above.

TV One’s NewsOne Now has moved to 7 A.M. ET, be sure to watch “NewsOne Now” with Roland Martin, in its new time slot on TV One.

Subscribe to the “NewsOne Now” Audio Podcast on iTunes. 


Georgia Lawmaker Defends Confederacy & KKK; Claims Hate Group Made “People Straighten Up”

GA Lawmaker Defends KKK, Then Withdraws Name From Proposed Bills To Protect Confederate Monuments  was originally published on