Pressure Builds for Answers on Confederate Carving

Two sides' positions seem set in stone as decisions on new exhibit near
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 21, 2021 7:35 PM CDT
Positions on Stone Mountain Carving Seem Set in Stone
People attend a meeting of the Stone Mountain Memorial Association last month.   (AP Photo/Ron Harris)

Crowds are growing larger at the monthly meetings of the Georgia board considering what to do about the giant carving of Confederacy leaders in Stone Mountain. But officials seem no closer to an answer. The Stone Mountain Memorial Association decided to make a few changes last month, but they weren't enough to placate people who want the monument removed. A museum exhibit will tell the story of the carving, as well as the site's ties to the Ku Klux Klan. But having to make those decisions could increase the volume and the pressure on the board, NPR reports. "Where we go from there?" asked the board's chairman, the Rev. Abraham Mosley. "I don't know." Putting the site in a Georgia context seems like a challenge. None of the three men—Confederate Gens. Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee, and Confederacy President Jefferson Davis—was from the area, and no battles were fought there. As a piece of history, it's not that historic, having been completed in 1972.

Attendance at Stone Mountain State Park is still holding around 3 million per year, but Stone Mountain's chief executive said there are costs. "We've lost business from major corporations that used to do business with our hotels and come to the park for gatherings, that they no longer do so due to the Confederacy issue," Bill Stephens said, per CNN. His options are limited, partly because of a state law that protects Confederate monuments. Also, there's a permanence to the thing. "To remove the carving would take a small tactical nuclear weapon," Stephens said. "Three acres of solid granite—it's probably not going anywhere, that's why we're telling the story about it." That's fine with a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans who wants the carving to stay, saying it's "local history, Georgia history, your history, my history—it's all common history, folks." A civil rights attorney said the monument doesn't reflect his goals for Georgia. "It should be inclusive," he said, "it should tell all of the history, and it should remove the hate, starting with the carving." (More Confederacy stories.)

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