Kemp used 'monument to Georgia’s history of white supremacy' as backdrop to sign voter suppression law: columnist

Kemp used 'monument to Georgia’s history of white supremacy' as backdrop to sign voter suppression law: columnist
Brian Kemp, the Governor of Georgia, speaks during a virtual Memorial Day ceremony at Clay National Guard Center in Marietta, Georgia on May 21, 2020. Governor Kemp spoke of the ultimate sacrifice that fallen Georgia Guardsmen have made while fighting for the freedoms all Americans possess today. U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Bryant Wine

The Philadelphia Inquirer's columnist Will Bunch went internet sleuthing after a picture of Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp surfaced showing the governor surrounded by a group of white lawmakers, presumably all Republicans as well, signing his voter suppression bill into law one hour after it passed the legislature.

In a Twitter thread, Bunch pointed out that readers should take note of the antebellum-style portrait behind Kemp as he signed the suppression law.

Crediting Twitter crowdsourcing, Bunch relates that the measure to limit Black voting was "signed under the image of a notorious slave plantation in Wilkes County, Georgia."

On the painting, he notes, "you can see that the painting is clearly 'Brickhouse Road — Callaway PLNT' (PLNT for 'Plantation…subtle, right?) by artist Olessia Maximenko from Wilkes County, GA'."

A promotional website, ExploreGeorgia, lists the Callaway Plantation as "a 56-acre historic site where — as the website cheerily notes — tourists can get "a glimpse into the by-gone era of working plantations in the agricultural South."

(That website is an "Official website of the Georgia Department of Economic Development," and that page has since disappeared after Bunch's post was published.)

Bunch points out that ExploreGeorgia glosses over the fact that by the time of the American Civil War, the Callaway Plantation "only thrived because of the back-breaking labor of more than 100 slaves who were held in cruel human bondage."

"In short," Bunch writes at The Philadelphia Inquirer, "the Callaway Plantation is a monument to Georgia's history of brutal white supremacy that unfortunately didn't disappear when Mariah Callaway and the other enslaved people were emancipated in 1865. By the 1890s, Georgia's white ruling class enacted a series of harsh Jim Crow laws to segregate all public facilities and block most Black people from voting. The state, for all of Atlanta's 'Too Busy To Hate' bluster, was a KKK hotbed in the 1960s' civil rights era, and in the 1980s Georgia blazed a trail into the new era of mass incarceration and voter suppression, epitomized by Kemp and his purges of legitimate voters and other Jim Crow-inspired tactics."

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