Despite public outrage and calls for its removal, the largest Confederate memorial in the world has reopened just in time for Fourth of July celebrations.
Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial — which features a nine-story high bas relief of Confederate “heroes” and slave owners, Gen. Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson — is welcoming visitors this weekend, although the laser light show (which illuminates the carvings and tells the story of the Confederacy) is still on hold.
The mountain is a notorious meeting place for the Ku Klux Klan, which was “reborn” atop it.
In 1915, the KKK was brought back on that mountain with a burning cross and advocates of the carvings were card carrying members of the hate group. After the mountain was complete, “a ‘neo-Confederate theme park’ emerged around the site, including a plantation house, a “Gone With the Wind” museum, according to a report from the Atlanta History Center, The New York Times reported. Since then, KKK members have gathered at Stone Mountain annually to hold rallies, according to the Times.
The opening has incensed Black Lives Matters protestors and civil rights groups, which have long called for the destruction of the monument.
“Here we are in Atlanta, the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement and still we have the largest Confederate monument in the world,” Gerald Griggs, a vice president of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP civil rights group, told the Daily Mail. “It’s time for our state to get on the right side of history.”
In 2017, during her failed run for governor, Stacey Abrams wrote a series of tweets detailing the history of the mountain and calling for the removal of the relief.
“The removal of the bas relief of Confederates from Stone Mountain has been a constant debate since the state bought the property in 1958,” Abrams wrote. “Paid for by founders of the 2nd KKK, the monument had no purpose other than celebration of racism, terror & division when carved in 1915.
“We must never celebrate those who defended slavery and tried to destroy the Union,” she continued. “Confederate monuments belong in museums where we can study and reflect on that terrible history, not in places of honor across our state.”
Adding insult to injury, the population of Stone Mountain is over 78% African-American, according to the US census — with whites making up just 18% — and African Americans also make up the majority of workers in and around the monument.
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