The Georgia chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans is very upset that Stone Mountain Park officials plan to place a monument to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. atop the mountain, which has traditionally operated as a paean to “Confederate heroes.” The Sons released an angry statement in which they called it “inappropriate.” They also referred to Dr. King as “Michael King.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Sunday that the Stone Mountain Memorial Association, a Georgia state authority which oversees the park, plans to put a replica of the Liberty Bell on top of the mountain. It would sit near carvings of Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis and would be decorated with a line from “I Have a Dream”: “Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.” The Memorial Association is also separately planning a permanent exhibit on black Confederate soldiers, according to the AJC.
All of this sounds appropriate and timely—past time, one might even argue—unless, of course, you are the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Ray McBerry, the Georgia division’s spokesperson, told Reuters his group objects to the plan, on the grounds that no one but a “Confederate hero” should be honored atop the mountain.
“It’s akin to the state flying a Confederate battle flag atop the King Center in Atlanta against the wishes of King supporters,” he added.
The Georgia Sons released a lengthy statement saying basically the same thing, but with the added bonus of getting Dr. King’s name wrong.
The statement adds that putting a Dr. King monument there is just as “repugnant” as putting a Confederate flag at the King memorial, which, not quite.
Furthermore, the erection of a monument to anything other than the Confederate Cause being placed on top of Stone Mountain because of the objections of opponents of Georgia’s Confederate heritage would be akin to the state flying a Confederate battle flag atop the King Center in Atlanta against the wishes of King supporters. Both would be altogether inappropriate and disrespectful acts, repugnant to Christian people.
Acting as a “Confederate Memorial” is an explicit part of Stone Mountain’s mission statement. The park’s master plan, though, says it’s also intended to be a “memorial to Southern history and a place of recreation for Georgia’s citizens and visitors.” The Sons pretty clearly to challenge Dr. King’s place in that legacy in court, saying the new monument could be a “violation of the law.”
Stone Mountain, pictured in June. Photo via AP Images