-Martin Luther King, 1963
|The monument to the Confederacy will come down|
Atlanta Journal Constitution
Byline: Racially ambiguous graduate of an Ivy League college/university
It will be completed soon. Freedom will ring from sea-to-shining-sea finally, just as Martin Luther King prophesied in his angelic "I Have a Dream" speech from 1963. Stone Mountain Park's divisive Confederate Memorial carving of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and Stonewall Jackson will be demolished today.
One of the last vestiges of public, prominent racism left in America (after the White House in Washington D.C. was renamed "The People's House"), Stone Mountain Park - located in predominately Black Stone Mountain, Georgia - will see a new mural erected in place of the three most prominent leaders of the white supremacist Confederate States of America.
The new mural, selected by the presidents of America's leading Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) will depict Martin Luther King giving his fabled address in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial.
"This is a powerful day in our nation's history, with true racial reconciliation coming to a state whose history is replete with the stain of white bigotry," said President Barack Obama.
"It is only by removing every white stain of bigotry that we can move forward with creating a more powerful union," he said.
The Army Corps of Engineers will supervise the demolition. Pieces of the memorial will be distributed across the nation as part of the Department of Education's Teaching Tolerance program.
Not far from downtown Atlanta sits Stone Mountain, one of the more awe-inspiring geological sites in all of the world. I was young when I was first went to Stone Mountain Park, and each time I've climbed to the top of the mountain since, that first trip still lingers in my mind.
When you see the huge carving of Lee, Jackson, and Davis on horseback (the largest bas-relief in the entire world) it leaves a lasting impression upon you. But for how much longer?
How can America - governed by the concept and principles of Black-Run America (BRA) - allow a monument to those traitors remain on Stone Mountain? The Los Angeles Times made a huge deal out of this mountain of hate in 1995, just before the Coca-Cola Olympic Games were held in Atlanta:
When Tyrone Brooks was a child growing up in rural Georgia, he learned from his elders that the freakish outcropping of granite east of Atlanta known as Stone Mountain was a frightful--even evil--place.
The Ku Klux Klan marked its rebirth early this century by torching a cross upon its peak. And in olden times, his grandmother told him, black people had been lynched and thrown from the mountaintop. "I did not grow up with a good feeling about Stone Mountain," Brooks said. "I still don't have a good feeling about it."
A year from today, when Atlanta hosts the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games, 2 million visitors will be expected to feel good about Stone Mountain and the numerous other reminders that the city known as the cradle of the civil rights movement also has a vivid historical flipside.
From the grandiose Confederate memorial carved into the mountain to the ever-present evocations of "Gone With the Wind" to the contentious Rebel emblem that dominates the state flag, Atlanta's Civil War and antebellum history will be much in evidence during the Games. Many visitors will find it charming.
But with various groups threatening protests and lawsuits over the flag, and with lingering resentments swirling around the other symbols, the stage is set for a momentous--or at the least loud--clash over how the South's past should be remembered and portrayed.
Three Olympic events will be held at Stone Mountain, a Southern Mt. Rushmore that since 1958 has been a state-owned park commemorating the Lost Cause of the Confederacy. While park spokeswoman K Thweatt said she knows of no lynchings ever taking place at the site, the land was owned by a family with a long history of klan involvement and was a frequent site of cross burnings.
A gigantic carving of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson graces one side of the mountain, and on weekends and every night from May through Labor Day the park puts on a laser light show featuring Lee and the Confederate flag and accompanied by Elvis Presley's rendition of "Dixie."
Brooks, a black 49-year-old state legislator, said he can't bring himself to visit the park except for official state functions. But despite criticism of the show, Thweatt said it will not be changed before the Olympics.
When Atlanta launched its underdog bid to become the first Southern and first predominantly black city to host the Olympics, much of its appeal rested on its image as spiritual capital of a modern, harmonious South. But the road to 1996 has been marked by collisions between conservative Southern traditions and the new.
To his way of thinking, Atlanta was awarded the Games because of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Former Mayor Andrew Young, who was an aide to King, is one of the local people most responsible for bringing the Games to Atlanta and is co-chairman of the organizing committee. He and other organizers have made it no secret that they employed King's image to sell Atlanta to the International Olympic Committee as the cradle of the civil rights movement.
For that reason, Brooks argued, the city should strive to portray itself as a racially enlightened New South metropolis. "It puts Atlanta in a whole other category in terms of world image, but my feeling is that the Olympics would not be here if it was not for the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and the actions of Andrew Young."Since this article was published in 1995, Georgia did change its state flag. Gone is the Confederate Flag.
More importantly, we are nearing the point where the gradual deracination - which turned into a full-fledged sprint (courtesy of Black athletes like Hershel Walker and Bo Jackson) - of Southern Heritage and Roots has been completed. Why should this monument remain on Stone Mountain anymore? Who cares about the past?
|Dead White Males have no place for veneration in Black-Run America (BRA)|
After all, Stone Mountain is a majority Black city (though NBC's 30 Rock imagined the city as some hayseed white dump) that already exonerated itself of racism by electing a Black mayor back in 1997. Courtesy of the New York Times:
The 20th-century Ku Klux Klan was born here in 1915, and for half a century afterward this quaint town on the outskirts of Atlanta played host to an annual rally of cross-burning Klansmen.
Until his death in 1993, the town was home to James R. Venable, the hate-spewing imperial wizard of the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Even today, the granite monolith that gives the city its name is revered as a Confederate Rushmore because of its giant relief sculpture of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson.
Now Stone Mountain has elected a black mayor. What is more, it has elected a black mayor who happens to live in the same house where Mr. Venable, himself the mayor in the 1940’s, lived for most of his life.
”Tell me,” said Chuck E. Burris, the Mayor-elect, ”that God doesn’t have a sense of humor.”
In a low-turnout election on Nov. 4, Mr. Burris defeated the incumbent, Pat Wheeler, by 278 votes to 260; a third candidate won 30.
Neither the small turnout — 16 percent of the town’s registered voters — nor the narrow margin of victory has stopped Mr. Burris and his wife, Marcia Baird Burris, from proclaiming the election a landmark in the racial evolution of the New South.
”There’s a new Klan in Stone Mountain,” Mr. Burris said in an interview, ”only it’s spelled with a C: c-l-a-n, citizens living as neighbors. And I guess I’m the black dragon.”
Mr. Burris’s election to the part-time, $300-a-month position is a tribute to his years of public involvement, both in Stone Mountain, where he has served two terms on the City Council, and in nearby Atlanta, where he worked as a budget analyst for that city’s first black Mayor, Maynard H. Jackson. It is also a testament to the gradual easing of racial politics in some Southern communities.
But perhaps above all, it reflects a remarkable demographic shift in the suburbs of cities like Atlanta, where certain middle- and upper-class neighborhoods, once exclusively white, have seemed to integrate almost overnight.
In 1980, white voters were 94 percent of the electorate in the city of Stone Mountain. By 1990, the figure had slipped to 85 percent. Only seven years later, half the registered voters in this town of 35,000 people are black.
As a scholarship student at Morehouse College in 1967, he sat in on several Saturday seminars led by Dr. King, and once told Dr. King that he did not think he could respond to violence with nonviolence. Dr. King replied, ”You will always be a slave if you let other people control your behavior.”
To Mr. Burris’s thinking, as to many here, Stone Mountain’s image has been distorted by the activities of a few locals, an annual pilgrimage by outsiders and some distant history (the Klan had been largely inactive for decades before its rebirth at a 1915 rally on the mountain).
Of course, the Confederate carving on the mountain, which rises from a state park abutting the city, remains. The huge sculpture, depicting Lee, Davis and Jackson on horseback, was commissioned in 1916 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy as a memorial to their Civil War dead, but, with work proceeding in fits and starts for decades, it was 1970 before it was dedicated.
Mr. Burris says the sculpture does not bother him as much as the need to pour new sidewalks, reduce property tax appraisals on the elderly and cleanse the city of crack houses.
”Maybe things are getting a little better,” he said. ”If nothing else, hopefully my election will make people know that the city of Stone Mountain is a good town, that everybody is welcome here, that there are no bars to anyone moving here and finding friends and neighbors.”Stone Mountain today is still home to crack houses and crime, courtesy of its 89 percent Black population. But on the north face of the nearby quartz monzonite dome monadnock commonly known as Stone Mountain rests a mural honoring three white men who aren't warranted that honor in BRA.
It will come down. It will be replaced with a more acceptable bas-relief. Probably MLK.
And then, the only thing left to demolish will be Mount Rushmore. After all, Thomas Jefferson was an individual who didn't believe in racial equality; Lincoln wanted to send all Black people back to Africa; Teddy Roosevelt was a progressive racialist; and George Washington - the father of a nation that no longer exists - was a slave-holding white male.