Stone Mountain Carving: The History and Significance of the Monument

Stone Mountain's carving reflects complex Southern history, intertwining civil war remembrance and civil rights struggles.

History and Significance

Stone Mountain’s carving is an emblem of the South’s complex history, intertwining narratives of artistry, civil war remembrance, civil rights struggle, and the evolving legal landscape surrounding Confederate memorials.

Origins and Artists

In the early 20th century, the Stone Mountain Memorial Association was formed with the vision of creating a Confederate monument.

The project began in the 1910s and was first entrusted to Gutzon Borglum, who went on to sculpt Mount Rushmore.

He was replaced by Augustus Lukeman due to artistic disagreements.

Yet, it wasn’t until Roy Faulkner took up the task that the carving was completed in 1972.

Civil War and Confederate Imagery

The Confederate Memorial Carving on Stone Mountain features figures central to the Confederacy: President Jefferson Davis and Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.

Spanning three acres, the massive granite memorial is a testament to the enduring legacy and controversy of the Civil War in the American South.

Civil Rights and Controversy

Amidst the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement, Stone Mountain has been a locus for tension.

It was the site of a rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan in 1915 and has since been a focal point for civil rights protests.

Figures like Martin Luther King Jr. have symbolized the pushback against the mountain’s Confederate imagery which many view as a glorification of racism.

Legal and Commemorative Actions

Georgia law currently protects Stone Mountain’s Confederate imagery as a memorial.

Ongoing discussions led by figures like Rev. Abraham Mosley, and actions by governors such as Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams, reflect the evolving narrative surrounding the monument.

An advisory committee, including members from diverse backgrounds, works toward solutions that address the site’s controversial past.

Stone Mountain Park and Community

Stone Mountain Park, with the large carving of Confederate leaders visible on the side of the mountain

Stone Mountain Park serves as both a recreational hub and a subject of historical controversy.

It has cultural significance tied to the Confederate Memorial Carving and has been at the heart of different economic and societal discussions.

Recreational and Cultural Significance

Stone Mountain Park is not just home to the infamous Confederate Memorial Carving; it is a place where guests from around Atlanta and beyond come to enjoy outdoor activities and cultural events.

The park features a wide array of attractions, including hiking trails, a Lasershow Spectacular, and family-friendly festivals that celebrate the cultural heritage and natural beauty of the area.

Economic Impact and Management

Managed by the Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation, Stone Mountain Park is a significant economic contributor to DeKalb County.

Its operations influence local businesses and job opportunities within the community.

However, fluctuations in revenue, like the 60% fall from 2019 to 2020, demonstrate the park’s sensitivity to public perception and broader social changes.

Public Perception and Future

Public perception of Stone Mountain, particularly the Confederate Memorial Carving, is divided.

While some view it as a historical artifact, others associate it with the ideologies of the Lost Cause and call for changes.

Georgia state laws currently protect the carving, ensuring that it cannot be “altered, removed, or obscured,” creating a complex future for the management of the park’s imagery and its role in the community.