Bill Text: MS HC13 | 2023 | Regular Session | Introduced

Bill Title: B.B. King or Elvis Presley; request the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress to approve the replacement of Jefferson Davis with either.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 11-0)

Status: (Failed) 2023-04-01 - Died In Committee [HC13 Detail]

Download: Mississippi-2023-HC13-Introduced.html


2023 Regular Session

To: Rules

By: Representatives Banks, Faulkner, Brown (70th), Clark, Evans (91st), Gibbs, Hines, Hulum, Porter, Straughter, Thompson

House Concurrent Resolution 13


     WHEREAS, the National Statuary Hall Collection in the United States Capitol is comprised of 100 statues contributed by each of the 50 states to honor persons notable in each state's history; and

     WHEREAS, the State of Mississippi has representational statues of Jefferson Davis and James Zachariah George displayed, which were crafted by Augustus Lukeman and dedicated in 1931; and

     WHEREAS, Jefferson Davis, who authored Rise and Fall of the Confederate States, served in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate, was President of the Confederate States and eventually made his home at Beauvoir, near Biloxi, Mississippi; and

     WHEREAS, Jefferson Davis is an important figure who reflects  times of the past, but does not necessarily reflect the unified and progressive spirit encompassing the Mississippi of today, as it is Mississippi's sentimental desire to respect and celebrate the past while honoring its evolution from past icons to present icons; and

     WHEREAS, Mississippi is known the world over as the "Birthplace of America's Music", as it is credited for producing the "King of the Blues", B.B. King, and the "King of Rock and Roll", Elvis Presley, among many others, and these trailblazers certainly represent the rich culture and heritage of the Magnolia State, and because of this, it is most fitting for a statue of either B.B. King or Elvis Presley to represent the State of Mississippi in the National Statuary Hall Collection in the United States Capitol; and

     WHEREAS, the remarkable life of B.B. King began in Berclair, Mississippi, where he was born Riley B. King on September 16, 1925, to sharecroppers, Mr. Albert and Mrs. Nora Ella King, who lived in a simple home along Bear Creek, and when he was four years of age, he relocated to Kilmichael, Mississippi, and then Lexington, Mississippi, before moving as a teen to Indianola, Mississippi; and

     WHEREAS, "Ambassador of the Blues" and "King of the Blues" are titles B.B. King earned as the result of decades of touring around the world, but the life of B.B. King, who is one of the most influential musicians in the history of the blues, could not have begun more humbly, as his first mentor on the guitar was Reverend Archie Fair, who played while preaching at a local church and he also credited his teacher at the one-room Elkhorn School, Luther Henson, with instilling in him dignity, independence and hope, qualities that served him well during his long career; and

     WHEREAS, while in Indianola, B.B. King worked as a tractor driver, got married, performed with a gospel quartet, and began actively playing the blues, and his guitar playing has served as a model for countless blues, rock, and rhythm and blues musicians; and

     WHEREAS, B.B. King's 1970 crossover hit, "The Thrill Is Gone", which provided him with the first of over a dozen Grammy awards, was the launching point for international stardom, and among his many subsequent recordings were collaborations with artists across the musical spectrum including Willie Nelson, U2, Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti and Heavy D; and

     WHEREAS, throughout his life, B.B. King always remembered the residents back home, and in the 1960s he began making regular visits to Mississippi for various events, such as an annual celebration in honor of civil rights leader, Medgar Evers, and workshops with students at Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena, Mississippi, where the B.B. King Recording Studio was established in 2004, and in 2008, Mississippi honored him with the opening of the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola; and

     WHEREAS, after a long and storied career that took him around the world, B.B. King passed away on May 14, 2015, and he is buried on the grounds of the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola; and

     WHEREAS, in addition to the illustrious B.B. King, Mississippi is also home to one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century, Elvis Presley, who was born on January 8, 1935, to Mr. Vernon and Mrs. Gladys Presley, in a two-room house in Tupelo, Mississippi, which was built by his father, grandfather and uncle; and

     WHEREAS, Elvis' signature sound began to form on his eleventh birthday in 1946, when he received his first guitar from his mother, which was purchased at Tupelo Hardware, and he also loved gospel music and sang in a Pentecostal church choir, where he developed his singing talents, and two years later, when Elvis was thirteen, the Presleys moved to Memphis, Tennessee; and

     WHEREAS, Elvis' career began in 1953, when he wandered into a popular recording studio in Memphis to record two songs for his mother as a birthday present, and he returned to the studio in January 1954, but the owner, Sam Phillips, still was not impressed with his singing, but finally, in July 1954, Mr. Phillips recognized Elvis' potential; and

     WHEREAS, in 1956, Elvis met Colonel Tom Parker, who became his manager and helped him get his first hit, "Heartbreak Hotel," and following this major hit were songs like "Hound Dog," "All Shook Up," "Don't Be Cruel," and "Burning Love," which were all hits in the same year, and he then starred in his first motion picture, "Love Me Tender"; and  

     WHEREAS, at the height of his popularity, Elvis was drafted by the United States Army and served for two years, and after he was discharged, he released "Are You Lonesome Tonight," which stayed at the top of the charts for four weeks; and  

     WHEREAS, Elvis was given such nicknames as "The Father of Rock-n-Roll," "The King of Rock and Roll," "Elvis, the Pelvis", and in rural areas he was known as the "Hillbilly Cat"; and

     WHEREAS, in 1956, Elvis returned to Tupelo for his "Homecoming" concerts, and while there, he provided the funds for the city to purchase the house where he was born and fifteen acres to build a park for the children of East Tupelo, and when Elvis returned again in 1957, he donated approximately $14,000.00 for a youth recreation center to be built in Tupelo, which had a pool, playground and picnic area, and throughout his life, Elvis always remembered where he was from and visited Tupelo more often than local residents realized; and

     WHEREAS, currently, the Elvis Presley Birthplace site includes the birthplace home of Elvis Presley, a museum, the Elvis Presley Memorial Chapel and the Assembly of God Church building where the Presley family worshipped, and there is also a large amount of land surrounding the complex which features the "Reflections" lake, Overlook Pavilion and several statues of Elvis; and

     WHEREAS, despite Elvis' untimely death on August 16, 1977, he continues to inspire new generations of musical giants, and his legacy lives on as proof that even the most humble beginnings can nurture talent that transcends any social or economic limitation, as he helped develop rock 'n' roll from rockabilly in the United States, all while embracing elements of soul, blues, country and funk, and being a symbol of progress as he began to help bridge the gap between different cultures in America; and

     WHEREAS, Mississippi's musical heritage has positioned the state as a true renaissance of musical genres, scaling past, present and even future trends, and it has not only transformed the course of America's music, it revolutionized it, and as B.B. King and Elvis Presley are extraordinary Mississippi icons, their legacies of musical excellence and giving back to their communities will continue to encourage Mississippians and those around the nation for generations to come; and

     WHEREAS, 2 USC Section 2132 allows a state to request the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress to approve the removal of a previously placed statue from the collection and the replacement of it with an equally suitable and socially inclusive display that is representative of the entirety of the state's diverse citizenry; and

     WHEREAS, if the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress approves a request, the architect of the Capitol shall enter into an agreement with the state to carry out the replacement in accordance with the request and any conditions that the Joint Committee may require for its approval, and such agreement shall

provide that the new statue shall be subject to the same conditions and restrictions as applied to any statue provided by a state under 2 USC Section 2131 and the state shall pay any costs related to the replacement, including costs in connection with the design, construction, transportation and placement of the new statue, the removal and transportation of the statue being replaced and any unveiling ceremony; and

     WHEREAS, several states have chosen to replace existing statues, thereby including representations of Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, Thomas Edison and Helen Keller; and

     WHEREAS, the Mississippi Legislature desires to replace the statue of Jefferson Davis with a statue of either B.B. King or Elvis Presley, to pay homage to such Mississippi icons, and to further reflect the transformative power of Mississippi from its past to its present; and

     WHEREAS, we request the Governor of the State of Mississippi to affirm the efforts of this Legislature by issuing a proclamation or statement approving the request for the replacement of the statue, and to create a commission of Mississippi artisans and artists who are authorized to solicit and collect private contributions for the creation and placement of the statue of either B.B. King or Elvis Presley; and

     WHEREAS, it is incumbent upon this Legislature to pursue the interest of its citizens by ensuring that statues representing our state wholly reflect the astounding strides made by all citizens, particularly in this instance when the state itself bears the moniker of being the "Birthplace of America's Music," and there has been no better ambassadors of our state than the distinguished and incomparable B.B. King and Elvis Presley:

     NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, THE SENATE CONCURRING THEREIN, That we do hereby submit this formal request to the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress to approve the replacement of the statue of Jefferson Davis with a statue of either B.B. King or Elvis Presley in the Statuary Hall of the United States Capitol.

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That copies of this resolution be furnished to the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress, to the members of the Mississippi Congressional delegation and to the members of the Capitol Press Corps.