The Georgia chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans said Monday a proposal to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on top of Stone Mountain could warrant legal action as “a possible violation of the law which established the Stone Mountain Memorial Association and charged it with promoting the mountain as a Confederate memorial.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported exclusively Sunday that the association and others plan to build a bell tower — located on the mountaintop, just above the giant carvings of three Confederate heroes — that celebrates the line in King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech: “Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.”
Park officials said they had appropriate approval for the proposal, including from Gov. Nathan Deal. It comes in response to debate over government-sponsored Confederate displays in the wake of the June killings of nine African-American churchgoers in Charleston, S.C.
But the confederate veterans’ group said it ran counter to state law, which designates the state-owned park as a memorial to the Confederacy.
“The erection of monuments to anyone other than Confederate heroes in Stone Mountain Park is in contradistinction to the purpose for which the park exists and would make it a memorial to something different,” the group said in a statement, which misstated King’s name.
“Monuments to either Michael King or soldiers of any color who fought against the Confederacy would be a violation of the purpose for which the park was created and exists,” the group said. “The erection of a monument to anything other than the Confederate Cause being placed on top of Stone Mountain because of the objections of opponents of Georgia’s Confederate heritage would be akin to the state flying a Confederate battle flag atop the King Center in Atlanta against the wishes of King supporters.
“Both would be altogether inappropriate and disrespectful acts, repugnant to Christian people.”