Metro Atlanta’s Stone Mountain Park has become a lightning rod for the continuing controversy over Confederate symbolism in the South. The popular tourist attraction, which contains a museum full of Confederate artifacts, various Rebel battle flags on property, and a massive carving featuring Southern Civil War heroes Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis, has endured the theft of one of the flags and calls to have the iconic carving removed — or have artists add new elements to the carving.
It appears a compromise between those who seek to honor history at Stone Mountain and those who react to controversy may soon take place. Governor Nathan Deal (R) has approved a plan to add a monument to civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to the top of the mountain.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Jim Galloway proposed that the line from King’s “I Have A Dream” speech which references Stone Mountain be etched on the granite face, and from that initial suggestion, plans for a more elaborate monument emerged.
The preliminary plans for the monument would include a replica of the Liberty Bell, called the Freedom Bell, along with the King quote, “Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.”
The CEO of the Stone Mountain Memorial Association thinks the monument is a good idea.
“It is one of the best-known speeches in U.S. history,” said Bill Stephens, the chief executive officer of the Stone Mountain Memorial Association. “We think it’s a great addition to the historical offerings we have here.”
One hurdle stands between the plans and reality: approval from the King estate.
Because King’s 1963 speech is copyrighted, permission of King’s heirs will be required. “Discussions have taken place with the King family and are taking place now,” Stephens said. “Their initial reaction is very favorable. But we haven’t completed those discussions yet.”
The new monument is a wonderful idea, but it remains to be seen whether it will be enough to satisfy those who seek to rid the mountain of its Confederate symbolism.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / Paul Brennan