It has been called the “Confederate Mount Rushmore” — a tribute etched into Georgia’s Stone Mountain depicting Confederate war heroes Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis. The NAACP has demanded its removal. One local artist has suggested adding Georgia rap duo Outkast to the carving.
Now state authorities have announced plans to use the space to also honor the nation’s most beloved civil rights leader, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
The monument to the martyr would stand amid America’s pro-slavery heroes, on a storied spot that once served as a gathering place for the Ku Klux Klan, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. It would feature a tower that would include a likeness of the Liberty Bell — a symbol of the country’s independence — along with a line taken from King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech: “Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.”
“It is one of the best-known speeches in U.S. history,” Bill Stephens, chief executive officer for the Stone Mountain Memorial Association, told the Atlanta newspaper. “We think it’s a great addition to the historical offerings we have here.”
The “freedom bell” itself will periodically ring from the mountaintop, the Journal-Constitution reported. An exhibit to celebrate African-American Civil War soldiers has been included in the plans, which are likely to be formally rolled out “sometime before the holiday season,” according to the newspaper.
The announcement followed an op-ed from Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Jim Galloway, who had called for such recognition. After nine black parishioners were shot and killed in June inside Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., there was a national backlash against Confederate flags and icons.
So Galloway suggested an idea: An addition to Stone Mountain, to show another side of history.
“Stone Mountain may be required to serve as a Confederate memorial, which makes the subtraction of history difficult,” he wrote in July. “But state law doesn’t rule out the addition of history. To respect the dead is well and good. It is not always wise to give them the last word.
“Perhaps a few words, carved in granite, once spoken by a fellow who had a dream of freedom ringing from the top of Stone Mountain.”
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SOURCE: Lindsey Bever
The Washington Post