A vast mountain of solid stone appears to have erupted from the ground. This impressive formation, Stone Mountain in Georgia, spans 3.8 miles in width and rises nearly 1,700 feet tall. Beyond its grandeur, it houses the world’s largest Confederate monument, depicting three Confederate leaders—Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis—on horseback.

The call for a Confederate monument came from John Temple Graves, who rallied Southerners to action in the Atlanta Georgian in 1914. A widow of a confederate soldier and honorary “life president” of the Daughters of the Confederacy, C. Helen Payne read Graves’ editorial, quickly taking action to secure the means to support the initiative. 

Stone Mountain became a prominent symbol of the Confederacy. Inspired by the film “The Birth of a Nation,” members organized a ceremony atop Stone Mountain in 1915 to announce the revival of the Ku Klux Klan. During this event, Klan members burned a cross, pledging their allegiance to the white supremacist group.

Work on the Confederate monument began in 1915. It would stop in 1928 after two sculptors had failed to complete the project in time. The monument would sit unfinished for nearly four decades until the Brown v. Board of Education decision. As a response to the decision,  Gov. Marvin Griffin swore  to uphold segregation and preserve the ideals of their forebears by finishing the monument. Griffin funded its completion using public funds. Work would begin on the monument after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It would be completed in 1972.

Today, Stone Mountain Park is the largest confederate monument and attracts over 4 million visitors annually with various attractions and festivals hosted on its grounds.

Stone Mountain Action Coalition (SMAC) is an organization dedicated to creating a more inclusive Stone Mountain Park by removing confederate symbols, contextualizing the confederacy, and opening the park to new markets. Sankofa Impact is proud to partner with them during our time in the South to learn about the movements to take down confederate monuments across the United States, and the work SMAC is doing on the ground in Georgia.

“[Stone Mountain] Park in its current form presents a romanticized, historically inaccurate narrative about the American South that we must move beyond.”

— Stone Mountain Action Coalition (SMAC)