- By Mitchell Northam, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Atlanta chapter of the NAACP wants the carvings of Confederate leaders gone from the side of Stone Mountain.
On Wednesday, the Fourth of July, the group is holding a large protest beginning at 7 a.m. The group is meeting at a rally point in Stone Mountain Village visitor’s center and then marching about two miles to the top of the mountain.
“Join us to protest America's bigotry at the world's largest shrine to white supremacy. Express your disapproval of racism, sexism, religious intolerance and discrimination based on national origin,” reads a notice about the rally on the chapter’s website.
The north face of Stone Mountain depicts three Confederate figures — Confederacy President Jefferson Davis and generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Work on the carving began in 1923, according to the park’s website. It is 400 feet above ground and the entire carved surface covers about three acres. It is larger than Mount Rushmore.
Stone Mountain has again become a focal point as conversations about removing Confederate monuments across the country have escalated. In 2017, Baltimore removed its statue of Lee, New Orleans removed four Confederate statues and several other cities around the country followed.
Around that time, in August, Stacey Abrams — now the Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia — called for the removal of the Stone Mountain carvings in a series of tweets, saying, “Confederate monuments belong in museums where we can study and reflect on that terrible history, not in places of honor across our state… The visible image of Stone Mountain's edifice remains a blight on our state and should be removed.”
On Tuesday, commenting on a tweet about the NAACP’s rally, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle — who is now in a runoff race for the Republican nomination for governor — said, “When I’m governor, I’ll fight to preserve Stone Mountain as the monument and cultural attraction it was intended to be. I’ll work on behalf of all Georgians, but I will also stand up to the extremists who think we have to sandblast the past to move into the future.”
The Atlanta NAACP is asking protesters to park at the Antioch AME Church. Shuttle buses will pick up protesters and take them to the rally point. Stone Mountain opens to visitors on July 4 at 10:30 a.m.
A Facebook page for the event asks protesters to “carry American flags or signs of protest or wear protest shirts or hats.” According to another webpage for the event on EndTheConfederacy.com, groups such as the Georgia Alliance for Social Justice, Black Lives Matter and March for Our Lives are also expected to participate.
A call from the AJC to the Atlanta NAACP offices on Tuesday afternoon was not immediately returned.