Monday, November 30, 2009

Stone Mountain Park Must Be Honest about Its Racism

Saturday, I went to Stone Mountain with my family. Stone Mountain has a troubling history-what started out as sacred space to Native Americans became the meeting place for the KKK for many years. Every time I go, although I love looking at the beautiful scenery everywhere, there is a slight sadness that follows me and it is hard to find things there that are troubling.

This time, I noticed three things: first, in the gift shop there was a book all about farmgirls and although every picture was of a different girl, they were all white. Now I do not know the exact ratio of white and black farmgirls, but surely there are at least some farmgirls of color in the South. It was a nostalgic book, with no story line, just quote after quote about how great and precious farmgirls are, so by only having pictures of white girls, it is basically saying that the only farmgirls that are worth knowing are white. Le sigh.

The other two have to do with Stone Mountain's history. I found out that the original designer of Stone Mountain wanted to have a shrine built that honors confederate womyn (Stone Mountain, with its carving of Gens. Lee, Grant, and Davis, is a confederate monument). This, of course, was never completed. Many other sculptors had designs that included womyn, but in the end a design was chosen that only glorified three male generals. Now, while I am not one that neccessarily wants there to be any monument glorifying the confederacy, if the men get a monument, then I am not opposed to womyn getting their own shrine.

The last one was pointed out by my mom several times-that in the exhibit about Stone Mountain's history, it talked about the KKK's involvement excruciatingly briefly and said that they stopped meeting there when Stone Mountain become a state park in 1958, but this is simply not true. My mother said she can remember KKK meetings being held at Stone Mountain until the 1980s.

I know it is tempting to whitewash history, but that does not do anybody any good. If there is one thing I have learned in my own recovery, it is that honesty is vital. If an organization cannot be honest about its darkest secrets, then the past horribleness will continue to fester. Racism is an evil and we must deal with it openly if we expect there to be any real change and this goes for organizations, as well as individuals.


  1. I couldn't agree more. I've been to Stone Mountain a few times (I just moved to the Atlanta area last spring). Each time I've been, I've had such mixed feelings, because it really is such a beautiful spot, but the various memorials honoring the Confederacy spoil it to a degree.

  2. I think it would be nice if they add one more flag pole in their "flags of the confederacy" exhibit. The flag that should be flying the tallest, for all to remember, the white flag of surrender.