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CHARLOTTE - Gov. Pat McCrory signed a bill Friday to begin the process of placing a statue of the Rev. Billy Graham in the U.S. Capitol.

“The Reverend Billy Graham is one of North Carolina’s favorite sons, one of our greatest gifts to the world,” McCrory said. “From the mountains to the coast, nothing compares to North Carolina’s values, spirit and faith. For many generations of North Carolinians, and people around the country and world, Billy Graham has come to personify those values.”

Graham's statue would replace one of former Gov. Charles Brantley Aycock, once honored for his contributions to public education but now out of favor because of his racist actions.

The Capitol contains statues of two people from each state in its National Statuary Hall Collection. The other North Carolina statue is of Buncombe County native and Civil War Gov. Zeb Vance.

Guidelines for the collection say statues should only be of the dead, but a congressional committee gets the final say.

Graham, a world-famous evangelist who lives in Montreat, is a native of Charlotte. McCrory signed the bill at the Billy Graham Library as Graham family members and officials with the Billy Graham Evangelical Association looked on.

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