Posted on April 2, 2024

J.Z. George’s Descendant Advocates for Removing the Statue of the Confederate Icon From the Nation’s Capitol

Jerry Mitchell, Mississippi Today, March 28, 2024

The great-great-great grandson of Confederate icon J.Z. George wants to see his ancestor’s statue moved from the U.S. Capitol back to Mississippi.

Each day, hundreds visit the Capitol’s Statuary Hall to glimpse the two statues from each state. Mississippi is the only state represented strictly by Confederate leaders. They are George and Jefferson Davis, the former president of the Confederacy.

In recent decades, states such as Alabama and Florida have replaced statues of those who fought in the Civil War or supported secession with notable leaders or trailblazers. States pay for the statues, which represent deceased citizens “illustrious for their historic renown or for distinguished civic or military services such as each State may deem to be worthy of this national commemoration.”

Beyond Confederate figures, Ohio replaced a slave-supporting governor with inventor Thomas Edison. California replaced a little-known minister with former President Ronald Reagan. North Carolina replaced a white supremacist politician with evangelist Billy Graham.

Mississippi, however, has stood pat.

It is time that changed, said George’s ancestor, Charles Sims of New Braunfels, Texas, a combat veteran, Ole Miss graduate and founder of The Dream 2020. “Racial hatred or racism shouldn’t be honored.”

He would love to see Medgar Evers, a World War II veteran buried in Arlington National Cemetery, take the place of George, a Civil War veteran, he said. “I’d like to replace a soldier with a soldier.”


Many of those in his lineage, like George, were slave owners. Three of his ancestors signed the Mississippi Articles of Secession, which called for the state to secede from the nation: “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery—the greatest material interest of the world.”

Two years after the Civil War ended, Reconstruction began, and so did a reign of terror against Black Mississippians and those who supported them.

George became known as the “Great Redeemer” for his role in returning white supremacy to power after Reconstruction ended. That work culminated in the 1890 Constitution, designed to disenfranchise Black Mississippians through poll taxes and constitutional quizzes.


The changes worked. Within a decade, the number of Black registered voters fell from more than 130,000 to less than 1,300.


“We cannot erase the past, but neither should we be a prisoner of it, either,” Sims said. “J.Z. George was the architect of the Jim Crow laws. I am not proud of this. … I think the statue should be removed from the Capitol because we cannot honor racial hatred.”


Some people believe there’s been so much hatred for so long that they can’t reach out to a Black family because “they’re not going to accept my hand in reconciliation,” he said. “Well, that’s how I’ve done it, and I’m not close to done.”

He has met with the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake, all victims of police violence. He also met with the niece of Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her bus seat and sparked the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott.