I apologize for the poor quality of this photo, but I only had an old iPhone and besides, we can’t all be Todd Rehm. It’s a little hard to tell, but the portrait of President Barack Obama has been rendered in scraps from Coca Cola cans, and it was on display in the Capitol rotunda on Friday. If you get a chance to see it, you should, because it’s really kind of cool.
You may be struck by the irony of positioning a portrait of President Obama in front of Alexander Hamilton Stephens, an attorney from Crawfordville who served Georgia as a US Representative, our 50th governor and vice-President of the Confederacy. In 1861, Stephens gave the infamous “Cornerstone Speech” asserting that because blacks were not equal to whites, slavery was their “natural condition” and that slavery was the “foundation” and “cornerstone” of the Confederacy. Stephens voted against secession, (but argued that states did have the right to secede) denounced many of Jefferson Davis’ policies, advocated peace talks and actually met with Abraham Lincoln to try to end the war. But the portrait of our 44th President repudiates the speech far more eloquently than Stephens himself ever did.