In a new front in the “Conflagration,” State Representative LaDawn Jones (D-62) has called for Georgians to avoid the state-owned Stone Mountain Park over the 4th of July weekend until the Confederate battle flag that flies near its entrance is removed. From her press release:
State Representative Jones believes that Georgians can show their demands by keeping their money away from the park during the Fourth of July Festivities at Stone Mountain Park including the Laser Show Spectacular. “Due to the large carving, Stone Mountain will always be a memorial to the Confederate soldiers and the Civil War. We can never change the fact that Stone Mountain was where the KKK was reformed in 1915 and grew from dormancy to millions of members. However, we can stop giving credence to this type of hate by removing the flags that fly at the bottom,” says Representative Jones.
The location is filled with a history of being closely related to the Ku Klux Klan and continues to fly several versions of the Confederate Flag at the entrance of the walking trail for the mountain. “I support an individual’s rights to self-identify with the history of the flag but I find it inappropriate that the State continue to allow this flag to fly over any building, park or property that is in anyway supported by the State.” Stone Mountain Memorial Association, which is a State of Georgia authority operates and is responsible for Stone Mountain Park which is operated by the Herschend Family Entertainment Group. Jones took a photo of the flags as she walked through the park and educated her nieces and nephews of the park’s history back in April. It was not until the recent events in Charleston that she saw growing support for an issue that has long caused her concern.
“Residents don’t need to hold mass picketing, we simply need to not participate at all in the celebration at the Mountain. It is that simple. Just don’t go. Our absence will be felt if all the black and brown faces along with those who do not tolerate hate of any kind stay away from Stone Mountain,” says Jones. There are a number of other firework shows throughout the metro area. Jones sent letters to the Hershend Family and the Stone Mountain Memorial Association. The Herschend Family quickly responded and directed Jones to the SMMA who has yet to respond to her inquiries. Jones says she avoided the park for years but by the urging of friends she exercised at the park but she was always bothered by the flags. “The Charleston shooting immediately reignited my distain for the Confederate Flag and all places that flies over. The Charleston murderer and others like him are empowered every time they go somewhere where the State endorses the hateful message that the flag displays. Conversely, hardworking, taxpaying citizens are consistently embarrassed by the lack of respect given when that flag that represents the likes of the KKK on State Property.” Jones often speaks to Georgia residents who are new to the south that do not know the history of Stone Mountain and are always shocked to learn the horrible history.
One wishes the Klan had been reformed, instead of re-formed, in 1915. Because it was not, one acknowledges Representative Jones’ distain.
Movements against the popular attraction, which boasts the largest bas-relief carving in the world (a depiction of Confederate Generals Lee and Jackson and President Davis), is not new. In 2013, a petition was launched to remove the sculpture from the mountain face. Before the 1996 Olympic Games, Rep. Tyrone Brooks pointed to the mountain as a symbol of the hollow promise of “The City Too Busy to Hate” and Georgia’s New South image.
Fear not. As commentators on this site have pointed out, it is inconceivable that the sculpture, a genuine and magnificent work of art, will be sandblasted away. Georgia elected officials are not the Taliban. But flying the Confederate battle flag on state grounds, even as an acknowledgement of history in a place haunted by it, looks to be an increasingly testy proposition.
Peach Pundit-GA Politics