‘We are here to endure’: Group prays for changes at Stone Mountain

10/6/2020 - Stone Mountain, Georgia - Rev. Steven Dial Sr. offers a prayer for love and understanding during a Stone Mountain Action Coalition "prayer for our park" event at the flag terrace at the Stone Mountain walk-up trail in Stone Mountain, Tuesday, October 6, 2020. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)
10/6/2020 - Stone Mountain, Georgia - Rev. Steven Dial Sr. offers a prayer for love and understanding during a Stone Mountain Action Coalition "prayer for our park" event at the flag terrace at the Stone Mountain walk-up trail in Stone Mountain, Tuesday, October 6, 2020. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

As Meymoona Freeman sees it, there are two ways to interpret the Stone Mountain Memorial Association’s decision to cancel its recent board meetings.

The board could be seriously considering proposals to remove, modify or contextualize the Confederate imagery that fills Stone Mountain Park. Or it could be trying to avoid the conversation altogether.

Either way, Freeman said, she and others pushing for change aren’t going anywhere.

“We are here to endure,” she said.

Freeman is a co-chair of the Stone Mountain Action Coalition, a grassroots organization formed earlier this year as the national conversation over systemic racism reached a fever pitch.

The group has lobbied the memorial association — which is mandated by state law to run Stone Mountain Park and maintain a “suitable” monument to the Confederacy there — to adopt an ambitious transformation plan that includes removing Confederate flags, changing street names and letting nature reclaim the mountain’s infamous carving of rebel leaders.

10/6/2020 - Stone Mountain, Georgia - Meymoona Freeman, co-chair of the Stone Mountain Action Coalition, speaks about the changes that SMAC is interested in seeking to create a new narrative around Stone Mountain Park in Stone Mountain, Tuesday, October 6, 2020. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)
10/6/2020 - Stone Mountain, Georgia - Meymoona Freeman, co-chair of the Stone Mountain Action Coalition, speaks about the changes that SMAC is interested in seeking to create a new narrative around Stone Mountain Park in Stone Mountain, Tuesday, October 6, 2020. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

The memorial association’s board of directors had been scheduled to discuss potential changes during a Tuesday afternoon meeting. But it cancelled the gathering, which had already been postponed from an earlier date.

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

SMAC, meanwhile, went forward with a Tuesday morning prayer vigil on the mountain. A half dozen faith leaders spoke at the stone plaza at the base of the walk-up trail, Confederate flags flying overhead.

They spoke on themes that included peace, compassion, healing — and endurance.

“Father, give us the strength just to keep on standing,” said Bishop Aaron Lackey of United Churches of God in Christ. “Give us the strength to continue fighting against injustice.”

10/6/2020 - Stone Mountain, Georgia - Individuals stand at a distance from one another while participating in a Stone Mountain Action Coalition Òprayer for our parkÓ event at the flag terrace at the Stone Mountain walk-up trail in Stone Mountain, Tuesday, October 6, 2020. Faith leaders gathered and prayed for peace, compassion, healing, integrity, endurance, love and understanding for hopes of bringing change to Stone Mountain Park. ÒAs the [Stone Mountain] Park continues to serve as a rally point for hate groups and violence, SMAC believes it is more important than ever to demonstrate the desperate need for peace and extraordinary opportunity it has to serve as a place of unity,Ó said a flyer give out by the Stone Mountain Action Coalition. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)
10/6/2020 - Stone Mountain, Georgia - Individuals stand at a distance from one another while participating in a Stone Mountain Action Coalition Òprayer for our parkÓ event at the flag terrace at the Stone Mountain walk-up trail in Stone Mountain, Tuesday, October 6, 2020. Faith leaders gathered and prayed for peace, compassion, healing, integrity, endurance, love and understanding for hopes of bringing change to Stone Mountain Park. ÒAs the [Stone Mountain] Park continues to serve as a rally point for hate groups and violence, SMAC believes it is more important than ever to demonstrate the desperate need for peace and extraordinary opportunity it has to serve as a place of unity,Ó said a flyer give out by the Stone Mountain Action Coalition. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

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