Across the country, in the wake of the George Floyd protests, statues honoring men who fought for the Confederacy have been brought under scrutiny. Opponents say that by honoring men who fought in part to keep slavery legal, they tacitly endorse racism. In some cases, those statues have been forcibly toppled by protesters. In other cases, local governments have ordered them removed, with plans to put at least some of them to a museum.
The carved-relief monument on Stone Mountain, near Atlanta, is described by Reuters as the largest and “most audacious” Confederate monument. Carved into the side of the quartz monzonite dome, the monument depicts three Confederate figures, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson.
According to the monument’s website, the entire carved surface of the monument is larger than the carved monument at Mount Rushmore.
There is no moving the Stone Mountain Confederate monument to a museum, as that would be physically impossible. The only way to “remove” the monument would be its wholesale destruction.
That’s just fine with Gerald Griggs, a vice president of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP. He has personally called for the monument to be scraped from the side of the mountain.
“Here we are in Atlanta, the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement and still we have the largest Confederate monument in the world. It’s time for our state to get on the right side of history,” he said.
Similarly, Maurice J. Hobson, an associate professor of African American Studies at Georgia State University, says that the monument honors men who took up arms against the United States of America and, as such, were traitors.
“The whole of Stone Mountain was erected to show what some white Georgians revered,” he said.
Martin O’Toole, an official of the Georgia chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, doesn’t see it that way.
“It’s three men on horses. What’s racist about that?” he asked.
Not unlike the Confederate monument at Stone Mountain, the nation’s other famous carved-mountain monument, Mount Rushmore, is also facing calls for its destruction. As CNN reported this week, Harold Frazier, the chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, has said that the carving is on land sacred to his tribe. Similarly, Oglala Sioux President Julian Bear Runner called the monument a sign of disrespect.