The battle for the Confederate history continues at Georgia's Stone Mountain

ADW 07-23_01Atlanta City Council drafts resolution to add more modern heroes to alongside Confederate leaders at Stone Mountain Park:
If you glance out of office tower windows in downtown Atlanta, you can clearly see one of Georgia’s greatest and most visited tourist attractions, Stone Mountain, poking high above the landscape like a shark’s fin. It is an impressive and imposing sight as it stands sentry over the vast metro Atlanta area.
Millions of people glance over at the beautifully carved sculpture etched into the side of the mountain as they walk or ride or jog past the colossal stone at Stone Mountain Park. Some are perhaps oblivious to the historical figures whose likenesses are carved into the side of the mountain, unaware they were Confederate leaders considered heroes for leading the fight against the Union to maintain the institution of slavery during the Civil War. Although millions of people visit Stone Mountain Park annually, the sculpture on the mountain doesn’t represent all those millions of people who visit her, Atlanta City Councilman Michael Julian Bond contends.
In an effort to make the image a more accurate reflection of Georgia’s heritage, some civic and civil rights leaders want the sculpture changed. The Atlanta chapter of the NAACP has proposed that the colossal 90-by-190 foot sculpture at Stone Mountain Park in Georgia be sandblasted from the face of the mountain. Rising 400 feet above the ground, it’s the largest, highest outdoor relief sculpture in the world and depicts Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.
Richard Rose, the president of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP, called for the elimination of the Confederate carving, characterizing it as a “glorification of white supremacy.”
The tragedy that started it all:
Others in Atlanta and Georgia, however, have adopted a more inclusive approach to this volatile topic. The controversy surrounding the removal of the Confederate battle flag and other vestiges of the Confederacy has gained tremendous traction following the bloodbath perpetrated by deranged psychopath Dylann Roof. The South Carolina white supremecist murdered nine parishioners inside the Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina last month. Soon thereafter, calls for the removal of the Confederate Flag – which Roof was cloaked in and prominently displaying during some of his pre-murder diatribe against blacks – reached the highest levels of the South Carolina state government. Gov. Nikki Haley initiated a domino effect when she successfully campaigned to have the flag removed from the state house grounds in Columbia, S.C. Other Southern states followed suit, though defenders of the Confederate battle flag have waged contentious protests in the state and elsewhere.
Georgia is apparently the next testing ground for a hotly-contested battle over the Confederacy — and it has to do with the most popular attraction in the state: Stone Mountain and the carvings of the Confederate leaders.
If that’s the case, then it is quite appropriate that Atlanta City Councilman Michael Julian Bond, son of the legendary Civil Rights leader Julian Bond, would draft a resolution petitioning Gov. Nathan Deal to consider additions to the mountain where the Confederate leaders are located, to establish a broader representation of the history of Georgia.
“Because of the recent events in South Carolina, the discussion has arisen in the Southern part of the United States. The NAACP’s Atlanta branch thinks it out to be torn down,” he said. “What I saw is an opportunity for Georgia to move beyond the current state of affairs of the Confederate emblems and symbols.” Besides, Bonds said, it would cost millions of dollars and removing the image altogether would not be financially feasible.
“But if you’re going to spend millions, it ought to be on an improvement, because if you remove [the Confederate sculpture] you will leave the mountain with a physical scar, just like the nation felt the spiritual one from the Civil War,” Bond said.
Bond said the response to his measure has been mostly positive, but attributes some of the negative backlash “to the lack to progress through the way the Civil War has been portrayed in Georgia, particularly in the last four or five decades. Most of the Confederate emblems only went up … in direct opposition to the Civil Rights Movement.”
That opposition remains alive today. Sources close to the councilman alerted the Atlanta Daily World that he received a death threat in the form of an email. The correspondence was littered with the N-word and concluded that the councilman would “be better off dead.”
Changing the face of Stone Mountain is not that easy either:
There is just one problem with those who want to alter the face of the mountain in any way: the Stone Mountain Memorial Association, a State of Georgia authority, which is self-supporting and does note receive any tax dollars, is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of Stone Mountain Park, according to the park’s website.
Some misinformed individuals have probably mistaken Bond’s resolution as a threat to the very existence of the Confederate sculpture. He said he doesn’t want to touch the sculptures. Additionally, there are those who don’t want the face of the mountain altered in any way – not even to add any transcendent figures from more modern times, such as President Jimmy Carter, James Oglethorpe or Martin Luther King Jr.
Bond said it is time to revisit this issue, especially since the Civil War was only four years out of the hundreds of years of history of the state, one of the original colonies.
“We’ve only asked the governor to consider paneling a group to study the history. And it is time to talk about reconciling this issue. The Confederacy doesn’t represent me culturally, but it happened and we need to deal with it and Georgia in its total history,” Bond said. “You have Confederacy and all these things happened. History is a continual journey and we should march forward. Should the past dominate us or serve as a reference point to navigate forward?
“The Confederacy is not what made Georgia what it is today or made Atlanta what it is today,” Bond continued. “This is our chance to say the to the world and to our Southern neighbors that we’ve been able to reconcile what is great and good, and reconcile what has been bad, and move forward.”

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