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It looks like the big Confederate flag on Interstate 24 east of Paducah, Kentucky, is in for a challenge.

Unity Water Tower

The design for a racial unity mural to be placed on a neighboring water tower has been finalized, according to WPSD-TV, Paducah’s NBC affiliate. The $25,000 project will be funded through donations, said McCracken County Judge-Executive Craig Clymer.

“It’s a dream come true,” said J.W. Cleary, Paducah NAACP president. “It shows that unity can prevail when people work together. The city and county really came together on this.” (Paducah is the McCracken County seat.)

The tower is across the busy four-lane highway from the flag, which has sparked controversy since the Sons of Confederate Veterans raised it in 2012.

The tower is across the busy four-lane highway from the flag, which has sparked controversy since the Sons of Confederate Veterans raised it in 2012. Groups like the SCV say Confederate imagery stands for “heritage, not hate.”

Opponents say the flag represents slavery, white supremacy and treason. South Carolina, the first state to secede, invited the other 14 slave states “to join us, in forming a Confederacy of Slaveholding States.”

Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens praised the Confederate constitution for specifically guaranteeing slavery. “All the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution [slavery]” were “the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution,” according to Stephens.

The flag flies atop a tall pole in a small, privately-owned Confederate-themed park near exit 16 in Reidland, a Paducah suburb.

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The left side of the water tower mural will show an African-American-white handshake in a space between the stripes of the U.S. flag. “UNITED WE STAND” will appear on the right side with the “U” and “S” larger than the other letters.

“We are united in this community, black and white, and really all races, of course, and I think it’ll be a strong message to people coming and going as well as the people here in the community,” Clymer told WPSD.

Though the tower is in the county, it is city-owned. The Paducah Water Works Board, McCracken County Fiscal Court, and Paducah City Commission are expected to approve the project.

A start date for applying the mural hasn’t been set because the tower has to be sandblasted and painted first. “Decisions on the size and the material for the design have not been made yet,” WPSD also reported.

Cleary likened the mural project to the part of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech” where King said he had a dream “that one day … the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.”

Added Cleary: “When we sit down at the table of brotherhood and understand that we are all in this together, great things can happen.”

The fiscal court has given the county treasurer the green light to open a special bank account for the water tower project, according to WPSD. Donations may be sent to the United We Stand Fund, Office of McCracken County Judge-Executive Craig Clymer, 301 Clarence Gaines Ave., Paducah, KY 42003. More information about the mural fund is available by phoning the fiscal court at (270) 444-4707.

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Berry Craig