Stone Mountain Memorial Association cancels much-anticipated meeting

Board was scheduled to discuss possible changes to park’s Confederate imagery

The Stone Mountain Memorial Association has cancelled an upcoming meeting where it was expected to discuss potential changes to the park and its Confederate imagery.

The meeting that was scheduled for Oct. 6 had already been delayed two weeks from its original date.

“We had no official business for the board to conduct,” memorial association CEO Bill Stephens wrote in an email to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The business matters we hoped to address were not ready yet and will hopefully be addressed at the November 16th meeting."

ExploreGroup pitches big changes to Stone Mountain Park's Confederate imagery

Stone Mountain, its massive carving of Confederate leaders and other imagery throughout the surrounding park have long been cultural flashpoints, and the reignited national discussion about systemic racism threw them all back in the spotlight this summer. The memorial association — a state authority tasked by law with operating Stone Mountain Park and maintaining a Confederate monument there — has found itself under new pressure to better address the fraught history of the area, which was also the birthplace of the modern Ku Klux Klan.

A new grassroots group called the Stone Mountain Action Coalition has proposed the memorial association take steps big and small, including removing Confederate flags that fly at the base of the mountain, renaming local streets and stopping maintenance on the carving. They’ve also pitched a larger re-branding effort that would focus the park on themes like nature, racial reconciliation and justice.

Two members of the memorial association’s board — Gregory Levett Sr. and Rev. Abraham Mosley — have expressed support for SMAC’s efforts. Board chairman Ray Stallings Smith III has suggested that changes or additions that more fully examine Civil War history are being considered, but has said many of the ideas proposed by SMAC would be out of the memorial association’s control.

Both Smith and leaders from SMAC have suggested that Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp will play a direct role in determining what does — or doesn’t — happen.

SMAC leaders met with members of Kemp’s staff last month and, in a statement released afterward, said they were “encouraged” by the discussion and looked forward to “an ongoing and cooperative relationship.”

Despite Tuesday’s memorial association meeting being cancelled, SMAC plans to move forward with a “Prayer for Our Park” event scheduled for 11 a.m. that day. It will be held at the flag terrace at the base of the mountain’s walk-up trail and include prayers led by a diverse group of faith leaders.

“We pray for everyone on every side of this issue,” the group said in a news release. “We pray for healing, transformation and progress.”

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