- Title: Predominantly Black armed protesters march through Confederate memorial park
- Date: 6th July 2020
- Summary: STONE MOUNTAIN, ATLANTA, GEORGIA (JULY 4, 2020) (VIDEO OBTAINED BY REUTERS) DOZENS OF ARMED PEOPLE WEARING BLACK MARCHING DOWN SIDEWALK AT STONE MOUNTAIN CONFEDERATE MEMORIAL
- Embargoed: 20th July 2020 21:09
- Keywords: BLM Black Lives Matter Confederate monuments NAACP protest Stone mountain
- Location: STONE MOUNTAIN, GEORGIA, UNITED STATES
- City: STONE MOUNTAIN, GEORGIA, UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Reuters ID: LVA001CLOAPMV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Dozens of masked, gun-carrying men and women marched to the controversial Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial on July 4th, to protest the nine-story-high sculptural monument to the South's pro-slavery legacy.
Despite long-standing demands for the removal of what many consider to be a shrine to racism, the giant depiction of three Confederate heroes on horseback still towers ominously over the Georgia countryside, protected by state law.
The monument - which reopens on Independence Day weekend after the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to close for weeks - has faced renewed calls for removal since the May 25 killing of George Floyd, triggered a national outcry against racial injustice, and revived a long-simmering battle between those demanding the removal of racist symbols from the public sphere, and those who believe the monuments honor Southern tradition and history.
"Here we are in Atlanta, the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement, and still we have the largest Confederate monument in the world," said Gerald Griggs, a vice president of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP civil rights group, which staged the march calling for the carving to be scraped from the mountainside. "It's time for our state to get on the right side of history."
Stone Mountain has long held symbolism for white supremacists. The Ku Klux Klan held its rebirth ceremony atop the mountain in 1915 with flaming crosses and Klansmen still hold occasional gatherings in the shadows of the edifice.
The sheer scale of the monument makes its removal a daunting task to contemplate. Longer than a 100-yard American football field, it features the likenesses of Jefferson Davis, the president of the 11-state Confederacy, and two of its legendary military leaders, Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, notched in a relief 400 feet above ground.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans is an organization that staunchly defends Stone Mountain and other Confederate statues and emblems. Dedicated to teaching the "Southern Cause," according to its website, it believes their removal is akin to purging American history.
The Southern or "Lost Cause of the Confederacy" holds that the war was fought over a heroic, but lost, effort to defend states' rights to secede from the Union in the face of Northern aggression, rather than the preservation of slavery.
Maurice J. Hobson, an associate professor of African American Studies at Georgia State University, counters this, describing the Southern Cause as "a false history" that downplays slavery's role in the Civil War.
He said the Confederate leaders were traitors to the United States who fought to hold on to a Southern economy that depended on slavery.
All three men featured on the monument, Davis, Lee and Jackson, were slave owners.
(Production: Kevin Fogarty, Arlene Eiras)
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