America Asks: What About Stone Mountain?

This Confederate carving is 190 feet across and 90 feet tall
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 4, 2020 5:00 PM CDT
America Asks: What About Stone Mountain?
This June 23, 2015 file photo shows a carving depicting Confederate Civil War figures Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, in Stone Mountain, Ga.   (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

Some statues of figures from America's slave-owning past have been yanked down by protesters, others dismantled by order of governors or city leaders. But the largest Confederate monument ever crafted—colossal figures carved into the solid rock of a Georgia mountainside—may outlast them all, the AP reports. Stone Mountain's supersized sculpture depicting Gen. Robert E. Lee, Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson mounted on horseback has special protection enshrined in Georgia law. Even if its demolition were sanctioned, the monument's sheer size poses serious challenges. The carving measures 190 feet across and 90 feet tall. An old photo shows a worker on scaffolding just below Lee's chin barely reaching his nose.

"The Confederacy doesn't celebrate the South; it celebrates white supremacy," said Zoe Bambara, a black activist who led a protest at the state park. Still, Bambara admits she's at a loss for what should be done with the massive monument. Erasing the carving would be dangerous, time-consuming and expensive. The stone is likely too durable for sandblasting, and there's a legal obstacle: When Georgia lawmakers voted in 2001 to change the state flag that had been dominated by the Confederate battle emblem since 1956, language to guarantee the preservation of the Stone Mountain sculpture was included as a bargaining chip. One option, suggested by an Atlanta-based urban designer, is to stop maintaining the site and let vegetation grow over the sculpture.

(More Confederate statues stories.)

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