Stone Mountain marching toward museum for black Civil War vets

A proposed museum to honor the services of black soldiers – who fought for both the Union and the Confederacy during the Civil War – took a step forward Tuesday when the Stone Mountain Memorial Association board voted unanimously to explore the proposal.

Meanwhile, a more high-profile plan to place a bell on top of Stone Mountain in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., seems to have been temporarily put on the back burner.

“The museum has taken priority,” said Bill Stephens, CEO of the SMMA.

Both projects were floated last month by Stephens and both ideas, were greeted with mixed results. Some, hoping to preserve Stone Mountain's historic and legal connection to the Confederacy opposed any plan that would include King on it.

Others, inspired by King’s work and the passage from his “I Have a Dream” speech that prompted the idea, favored it.

Blacks and whites have been on both sides of the issue and during a pro-flag rally this weekend at Stone Mountain, some of the marchers were under the assumption – based on conservative columnists – that the issue was dead.

“We don’t even have the proposal before us,” said Carolyn Meadows, chairwoman of the SMMA. “It would have to be alive before it was dead.”

Stephens will now explore how to build a museum. He said he would spend the next few months talking to opinion leaders and getting legal and financial evaluations on how to make it happen.

“We would hope to have an evaluation done in a few months,” Stephens said. “Then, to have something in place by 2016.”