The nation’s largest Confederate monument, Stone Mountain Park, located outside of Atlanta, Georgia, is getting a face lift.
On Monday, the park’s board announced that a new exhibit will seek to explain the “whole story” behind the Southern memorial.
The exhibit, according to the press release, is being developed by “credible and well-established historians… to tell the warts-and-all history of the Stone Mountain carving.”
The sculpture is an homage to three Confederate leaders: Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy during the Civil War, and Gens. Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
On horseback, the men sit in relief of a carved oval background that spans three acres. The statues themselves are a colossal 90 feet by 190 feet.
No significant fighting occurred at Stone Mountain during the Civil War, rather the land was owned by brothers William and Sam Venable, businessmen who were deeply involved in the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan beginning in 1915. On Thanksgiving night of that same year, the KKK burned a cross atop Stone Mountain to mark the revival of the hate group.
“The monument itself is not about history,” Kevin M. Levin, a Civil War scholar, told The Atlantic Journal-Constitution. “It’s about memory, about the people who put it up and what they were trying to do.”
The park itself officially opened on April 14, 1965 — exactly 100 years after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
“The monument has long been a flashpoint of debate between those who see it as part of the South’s heritage and those for whom it represents White supremacy,” writes CNN. As it currently stands, the monument “cannot be removed under Georgia law.”
Some activists say the board’s actions don’t go far enough, while others call to leave the park untouched.
“We need to take down the flags. We need to change all the street names and do what we said we were going to do: eliminate the Confederacy from Stone Mountain Park,” John Evans, former DeKalb County NAACP President, told the Stone Mountain board before the vote.
Eric Cleveland, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, countered, “These people will not stop until our history is completely erased,” The Associated Press reports.
At a news conference after the vote, Mosley, first Black person to chair the association since it was formed in 1958, recognized that there would be unhappy parties on both sides of the issue.
“It will be difficult to thread a needle and please everyone, but our Georgia today is a broad tapestry, and I would like to think we can weave us all together in some fashion,” he stated.
The board also approved plans for relocating a Confederate flag plaza from the mountain’s walk-up trail. Erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in the 1960s, the flags will be moved to Valor Park — an area near the base of the mountain that already hosts a number of other tributes to the Civil War South, CNN reports.