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Confederate Supporters Protest MLK Monument On Stone Mountain

Protesters climb Stone Mountain where they say a monument honoring Martin Luther King Jr. would disrespect Confederate veterans.
Credit Johnny Kauffman / WABE
Audio version of this story here.

A small group of Confederate supporters hiked up Stone Mountain in Georgia Saturday to hold their flags in the very spot a replica Liberty Bell honoring Martin Luther King Jr. would be placed, according to a proposal from the state-appointed agency that oversees the long-time Confederate monument. 

The day began with a gathering of about 40 people in a Stone Mountain parking lot. Some people drank beer, talked Confederate history, and told the media gathered that a monument to King would be an affront to their heritage and a dishonor to Confederate veterans.

“I have no problem with what Martin Luther King did,” said Tara Brandau. “He has his own places, but that bell does not have nothing to do with the Confederacy.”

As the group mounted the granite outcropping with Confederate heroes carved in its side, they did not encounter any counter-protestors.

At the top, tourists gazed at the Confederate flags, and the people carrying them, some even asked for photos with the group.

Marissa Phipps said she was surprised when the Confederate supporters passed as she headed back to her car after jogging at the park.

“It’s sad and unfortunate,” she said.

Phipps lives in Dunwoody, Georgia, but she says as an African-American who grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, she’s used to seeing the Confederate flag.

“I’ve accepted it, and what you can you do? You can’t change people or their mindset, all you can do is love,” she said.

Phipps knows of others who don’t come to the park because of its history, and she said a monument to King would be a good idea.

“He stood for a lot of great things, peace, equality. I don’t see how anybody could be against that,” she said.

Last month the state-appointed Stone Mountain Memorial Association made public a proposal to put a replica Liberty Bell atop the mountain as a nod to King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

Civil rights groups, like the NAACP, as well as Confederate groups, like the Sons of Confederate Veterans, both oppose the plan.

Civil rights groups say the bell would dishonor King’s legacy.

But activists who worked alongside King, like John Lewis, and Andrew Young, have voiced their support.

The Stone Mountain Memorial Association board meets Tuesday. They don’t plan to discuss the proposal for the monument to King. The board is scheduled to vote on a proposal for a potential exhibit to African-American soldiers who fought in the Civil War. 

Protestors this weekend said they weren’t happy about that idea either.