Ku Klux Klan, Stone Mountain and Me

I went to the top of Stone Mountain east of Atlanta, Georgia where the infamous William Simmons reestablished the KKK in 1915. “Inspired” by the cinematic evil masterpiece, The Birth of a Nation, Simmons lead a g roup of fellow racists up to the top of the granite mountain to initiate members into the Klan. The mountain which is of white-limestone coloured granite, resides in a state park that had been very conducive to klan activity. One can take a Swiss-made trolley up to the top of the mountain in a couple of minutes.

Nowhere is there any mentioning of this mountain’s history of racism. Yet consult Dr King’s 1963 I have a dream speech and it is there: “Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.” While not mentioning the klan by name, he was clearly referring to the 1915 revival of the klan. In the preceding line, Dr King mentions in his style of cadence, Lookout Mountain, Tenn where the first Ku Klux Klan was formed in 1866. Yet history lasts only as long as we permit it. There is no mention of Klan birthing on the mountain top as the guide speaks during the ascent. The visitors’ gallery at the summit contains no pictures or printed material referencing Simmons’s initiation of the KKK. I spoke to several tour guides at the base and at the top and they did not know about it.

When I got to the top I began to chant Dr Martin Luther King’s March on Washington reference to Stone Mountain as other toursists seemed nonplussed. So let history not forget the historical significance of this mountain as the birthplace of the revival of the KKK. Let us remember to remember such sordid acts in this nation’s history. Lest we forget.

Carved into the mountain is the largest bas relief in the world. It is a carving of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Gen. Robert E. Lee and Gen. Stonewall Jackson. I understand the kkk donated some of the money for the project. It is quite large and I do believe in the preservation of all history. Yet as I rode past this mammoth carving, I felt an appropriate sense of disgust as all three figures were either civilian or military leaders of the late rebellion.

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