“Telling The Truth” About Jim Crow Origins Of Stone Mountain Will Be “Ugly” Say Historians

  • Longtime CEO of the Stone Mountain Memorial Association was, finally, ready to reveal what had come from behind-the-scenes discussions about the future of Georgia’s controversial tourist attraction.
  • “What I am proposing first,” Stephens said, “is that we should tell the whole story of Stone Mountain Park. And tell it truthfully. And start with the carving.”
  • As for the story of the carving itself: Stephens admits it’s ugly. Historians agree.

Tyler Esyep from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes:

“Late last month, on the state holiday formerly known as Confederate Memorial Day, Bill Stephens stood behind a podium in a crowded ballroom.

The longtime CEO of the Stone Mountain Memorial Association was, finally, ready to reveal what had come from months of behind-the-scenes discussions about the future of Georgia’s only controversial tourist attraction.

“What I am proposing first,” Stephens said, “is that we should tell the whole story of Stone Mountain Park. And tell it truthfully. And start with the carving.”

The carving, of course, is the three-acre homage to Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, and Robert E. Lee that’s embedded in Stone Mountain’s northern face. The Confederates on horseback make up the world’s largest bas-relief sculpture and, presumably, the world’s largest monument to the Lost Cause.

The story of how it got there spans more than half a century, beginning not in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War but in the Jim Crow era of the early 1900s. The bulk of the work was done during the Civil Rights era. It wasn’t completed until the Nixon Administration.

Stephens’ proposal, one of several expected to be considered Monday by the memorial association’s board of directors, is to explore all of the history in a new exhibit at the park’s on-site museum.

It’s an idea, Stephens admits, that’s largely driven by financial pressure — and one that’s likely to make few people happy. Groups like the Sons of Confederate Veterans want the park to embrace the Civil War South even more tightly; activists would prefer that just about everything that honors the Confederacy be removed from the taxpayer-owned property.

As for the story of the carving itself: Stephens admits it’s ugly. Historians agree…”

See full story here.



Categories: Government, Politics

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