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County commission approves first African American statue at courthouse
statue mockup
A mock-up of what a memorial to Ralph Waldo Quarterman might look like.

At the July 18 Liberty County Commissioners meeting State Rep. Al Williams asked the commission to consider allowing a memorial be erected to Ralph Waldo Quarterman on the grounds of the Liberty County Historic Courthouse. 

The county approved the request. 

According to Williams the statue will be the first African American statue erected in front of a court house in the South.

Quarterman, who lived from 1918 to 1964, was the first African American to run for a seat on a county commission in Georgia, possibly in all of the rural South, according to Williams. Quarterman is best known for organizing the Liberty County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1952. He also spent time in the African nation of Liberia in the early 1960s to help establish saw mills, Williams said. He was also a successful business man who ran a general store off Winder Road in what is now Allenhurst but was once part of Walthourville.

“He was one of my mentors,” Williams said. “I was 13 years old and he appointed me to head the youth chapter of the first youth council of the Liberty Branch of the NAACP. I hung around him and he inspired me.  When he passed in 1964 I spoke at his funeral representing the NAACP Youth Council for the State of Georgia and that was the first funeral I ever spoke at”

Williams said he has started to seek out potential sculptors for the project. He spoke with the artist who created the statue of Martin Luther King Jr., which was recently erected on the grounds of the state Capitol. He also spoke with the artist who did the monument of Althea Gibson in Nashville, Tenn. and is looking to speak to a local artist in Savannah.

Funds for the memorial would be raised through private donations. We are going to officially kick-off the fundraising efforts at the NAACP Gala in October. But we have started collecting some donations.

He said it is a personal mission but one that is backed by many in the community that feel Quarterman is worthy of the statue and recognition.

VIDEO: State Rep. Al Williams promotes Quarterman statue

By: Lewis Levine

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