Atlanta's Peace Monument, desecrated by protesters, champions unity, not the Confederacy

The Atlanta monument damaged by protesters Sunday night was erected in 1911 to urge reconciliation after the Civil War, not to venerate the Confederacy.

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Protesters took to the streets in Atlanta and elsewhere Sunday night, outraged over the violence in Charlottesville, where a “Unite the Right” rally clashed with counter protesters. Heather Heyer, 32, was killed when a car plowed through a group of pedestrians. James Alex Fields Jr., 20, a failed military aspirant whose former high school teacher said he was “fascinated with Nazism” and “idolized Adolf Hitler,” was charged with second-degree murder and was denied bond on Monday.

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Protesters tried tearing down the Peace Monument on Sunday night. AJC photo: Curtis Compton

Atlanta author Goldie Taylor, who's been a contributor for the Daily Beast, was among those weighing in via social media Sunday night:

No one, of course, suggests that 1911 Atlanta was the progressive bastion of equality, diversity and inclusion that modern-day Atlanta enjoys. Jim Crow was the law of the land back then. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was decades away. Women were still nine years from having the right to vote.

Judged by the mores of their era, however, the Gate City Guard members who sought to heal the rift between North and South would likely have been considered relatively enlightened for their time. The Peace Monument erected that year was something of harbinger of Atlanta's reputation during the 1960s Civil Rights era as the "City Too Busy to Hate."

"I think Atlanta has done a fairly good job of putting the Civil War in context and moving on from it," Kennedy said. Sometimes when he’s visiting the park, he becomes an impromptu tour guide, detailing the monument’s meaning to visitors.

A protester was hurt by metal falling from the edifice as the group tried to tear it down, AJC photographer John Spink reported Sunday night. Tensions rose as the lone policeman on the scene was surrounded by black-clad Antifa protesters shouting “pig.” Black Lives Matter protesters put themselves between the police officer and the Antifa crowd, and the gathering soon dispersed.

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About the Author

Jennifer Brett
Jennifer Brett
Jennifer Brett is a multiplatform journalist and digital coach. She writes The Buzz blog for accessAtlanta.com.
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