Racist symbols of the Confederacy are more likely to fall when native Georgians speak calmly and directly against them.
Such is the case with Rep. Gregg Kennard, Democrat running for reelection in Georgia’s 102nd district. During a speech on the statehouse floor in 2019, Kennard, practicing pastor and certified life coach, recalled growing up near Stone Mountain and being deeply disturbed by icons of slavery dotting the landscape around him.
Rep. Kennard rose to oppose SB-77—a bill that would make it much more difficult for local communities to remove Confederate monuments. In his remarks urging a “no” vote on SB-77, Kennard recalled his own research into the slave trade, traveling to plantations and West Africa, to bear witness to atrocities committed during our country’s darkest period.
“I’ve seen the slave castles; they are unimaginable and horrific,” he said. “I’ve been up and down the eastern seaboard to see the ports-of-entry for slave ships. I’ve seen the slave markets that still stand, to understand the darkness of this 246-year period.”
“This historical journey has been nothing short of traumatic,” he continued. “I began to process the reality that my country, state, and even my own family participated in the atrocity of slavery. If I feel this way I can only imagine how compounded the felt-pain is for my African American brothers and sisters in Georgia who have constant visual reminders on public grounds of slavery-era defended by the Confederacy.”
Kennard has used his platform to advance some of Georgia’s and our nation’s most pressing issues—including criminal justice reform, education, and economic opportunity as well as celebrating the hard work of progressive champions working in Georgia. He swept into office during the Blue Wave of 2018 and is running for reelection against Soo Hong, a well-funded Korean American Republican.
Kennard recently tweeted about the need for volunteer poll workers to help ensure voting integrity. Georgia’s 102nd overlaps with GA-07 which, according to national reporting, has emerged as a battleground and possibly a bellwether for the state and the nation. Democratic candidate Carolyn Bordeaux is leading the charge in Georgia’s 7th district against incumbent Rich McCormick; her success there could signal how well Kennard performs, and vice-versa.
Despite national awakening to Confederate iconography following the tragic events in Charlottesville and elsewhere, SB-77 passed and was signed into law in 2019. But that hasn’t stopped Rep. Kennard from speaking out against racial injustice, particularly when it comes to his own descendants.
“Black History Month gives us the opportunity to hear the stories of the American narrative downplayed or left out of our American-history classrooms,” Kennard stated at the start of February 2019’s commemorative month. “My forefathers fought on the wrong side of the Civil War; they wore Confederate grey. My maternal ancestors fought on Kennesaw Mountain 23 miles from here. They supported Jim Crow. They cast their votes for elected officials in Georgia who were staunch segregationists. My family was silent and absent during the civil rights movement giving tacit approval for racial inequality and injustice.”
“But I do have good news,” he added. “I’m happy to report there are new generations of Kennards alive today who will not allow the sins of our forefathers to be visited upon our children and our children’s children. We’ll work to heal our larger society that today still carries the residue of our country and state’s painful past.”
Photo courtesy campaign Facebook page.
Photo courtesy campaign Facebook page
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