Deal to consider appointing black members to all-white Stone Mountain board

Stone Mountain has a complicated legacy. KENT D. JOHNSON/KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM

This article was posted on Aug. 21 at 7 a.m.:

Gov. Nathan Deal said he was open to appointing a black member to the board that governs state-owned Stone Mountain amid new scrutiny into the nation’s largest monument to the Confederate war dead.

Deal said he hadn’t realized that each of the 10 members of the Stone Mountain Memorial Association board was white, and said “we’d certainly be open” to tapping an African-American leader to serve on the panel.

Stone Mountain and its towering carving of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Gens. Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson is again at the center of debate over Rebel symbols after last week’s bloody violence in Charlottesville, Va. And the lack of diversity on its board is well-known in DeKalb County and a topic of discussion elsewhere in the Capitol.

One of the loudest calls to remove the Confederate trio from the mountain is from state Rep. Stacey Abrams, a Democratic candidate for governor, who drew national attention for her vow to take a symbolic sandblaster to the mount. She said Saturday on CNN it was designed to “terrorize black families.”

“Confederate monuments have nothing to do with any of our American history except for treason and domestic terrorism,” she said.

Doing so would be a monumental challenge. A state law that was part of a 2001 compromise to overhaul Georgia’s segregation-era flag declares that the “heroes of the Confederate States of America” enshrined on the mountain shall be “preserved and protected for all time as a tribute to the bravery and heroism” of the South’s soldiers.

Deal, whose second-term expires in January 2019, said Abrams’ plan was a non-starter. There’s little appetite among legislative leaders to revisit the legislation that protects Stone Mountain – the top two GOP leaders in the state Senate opposed Abrams proposal – and Deal signaled he would veto the legislation even if it passed.

“That is a dedicated memorial by state law,” said Deal. “It would require the Legislature to take action to do that, and I would personally not be in favor of that.”

Other prominent politicians have called for less-sweeping changes that could still have a meaningful impact on the site.

DeKalb Chief Executive Michael Thurmond, whose county encompasses Stone Mountain, wouldn’t take a side on Abrams’ call, but he said the park needed to add historical exhibits to provide additional context for the throngs of visitors who tour the site each year.

“The narrative has to become more inclusive. The idea of the mountain belonging to the KKK or the neo-Nazis – no, it belongs to the people of Georgia,” said Thurmond, also a Civil War historian. “It doesn’t belong to the Confederate veterans or the NAACP. We all have an investment here.”

And he said he hoped Deal would appoint an African-American member to the Stone Mountain board “very soon.” Asked on Saturday about that possibility, Deal made clear he was receptive to the idea.

“When we have vacancies,” he said, “we’ll take that into consideration.”

RELATED

Stacey Evans: An argument for ‘accurate’ history at Stone Mountain

Abrams calls for removal of Confederate faces off Stone Mountain

Gwinnett judge suspended after posts about Confederate monuments

Petition calls for removal of Confederate flag in Kennesaw

Confederate monuments coming down all over the South

Reader Comments 6

363 comments
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Roy Abbott
Roy Abbott

Question.......they have all kinds of all black things, caucus, TV shows, beauty pageants, etc. Isn't it possible to leave things that have been white...white? Must we cave in to their every Demand? Leave things alone and move forward. Concentrating on the past isn't going to Help! Georgia resident......bev

Joann Cromer
Joann Cromer

Leave stone mountain along. What the hell is deal thinking.

Stuart Robinson
Stuart Robinson

Be careful. David may get mad at you! Your base may not vote for your buddy Cagel. Might loose your Khakis, white polo, make America great again hat.

J Kenneth Anderson
J Kenneth Anderson

I have never seen such a group of "patriots" in my life. You guys rock.....right off a cliff. The racists claiming racism is beyond hilarious. How do you love America and love a country that tried to separate from America? Then you blame Obama....I really can't get you guys sometimes. The same way you guys tell us to get over our problems, I say to you, the Civil War happened years ago and we had nothing to do with it, so get over it.

Garry Puckett
Garry Puckett

Deal has shown his true colors since he won his second term and can no longer run for governor. No pun intended.

David Lee Underwood
David Lee Underwood

Want a take down something old and worthless ? Start with Maxine water head,,Nancy pelosi,, john 2 faced McCain, Paul traitor Ryan,,Lyndsey graham,,the root of this eveil,,,and the old witch herself ,,Hillary who is the gang leader..

Susi Dobbins Vorndran
Susi Dobbins Vorndran

You should appoint the best available person. ..don't even look at skin color!

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Rachel Cuthbertson
Rachel Cuthbertson

Gov. Deal if you hope to get re-elected nip this crap in the bud right now.

Billy Nealey
Billy Nealey

Not when they are wanting to destroy it.

Shirley Hinton
Shirley Hinton

Why dont you take the mountain place it somewhere else .. its easier then considering what leadership we have . Really ? No wonder I 85 imploded .. ever collect that money from the fire starter ? Oh no , why do that ? What bridge will he burn next .....? but your worried about soldiers from 1800's .. riding horses ..\U0001f646\U0001f3fc\U0001f646\U0001f3fc\U0001f646\U0001f3fc

Shirley Hinton
Shirley Hinton

How absolutely ridiculous ! Seriously with all the problems we have in this state we are going to worry about this crap ! We need to dump all of you and let some thinking women take over .. your pathetic !

Lamar Hale
Lamar Hale

Thats fine as long as that person has an objective mind, good luck!

Iris Smith
Iris Smith

SAD, Stone Mountain is not a problem to any sane people.

Vicki Marchman
Vicki Marchman

I am glad that Governor Deal is doing this. In fact a couple of other races would be a good idea as well. That way it is not just a black and white thing.

Christina Sweatman Armstrong
Christina Sweatman Armstrong

I do t think anyone should be excluded from being a board member but i also do not think this monument should be removed!!!!

Norm Cooper
Norm Cooper

I will support Deal because he is a GREAT governor and I have always supported him. I would suggest White Folks be appointed to all boards who oversee Martin Luther King sites as well

LG Kathy
LG Kathy

How about we just remove everything from public view that offends anyone?? We can start with that black power fist statue in Detroit.

Tim Peacoe
Tim Peacoe

Stupidity leave it alone if we get down to the facts the black men road with the Union Army and helped Wipe Out the Native Americans should we not take down all the black statues which would include Martin Luther King statue because this makes Native Americans feel bad for the slaughter of their people

Marcia Suits Dennis
Marcia Suits Dennis

Don't forget to tell him obummer statue and library needs to go too cause all of America is going to change history there will be no one's statues no library no schools no play grounds no police no parks no nothing at all

Marcia Suits Dennis
Marcia Suits Dennis

Sharpen your sword muslim your on your way to Syria constance your too stupid to talk to

Constance Rutledge
Constance Rutledge

Are you mental ?? \U0001f602. Did working in a kitchen have some sort of adverse effect on your brain ??

Marcia Suits Dennis
Marcia Suits Dennis

Seems strange that for hundred years nothing at all said about it until obummer and soros put the rioters in Virginia now there going after the statues well let's also go after Martin Luther King junk and obummer statue and his library we can set fire to them

Tony Downs
Tony Downs

He should focus on cleaning the damn carving and stop stirring the pot!

Terri Franssen
Terri Franssen

Why would they have restricted people, due to the color of their skin, in the first plac!? Ohhhh Georgia! 1950s "Creature of Jeckle Island" Georgia! Wow!

Jean Walker
Jean Walker

Why? Are any "white people" members of the NAACP, BLM. etc. or their "all black" colleges??????

Jean Walker
Jean Walker

Constance Rutledge - True but are they "true" members?

Phyllis Lloyd
Phyllis Lloyd

THis needs to be voted on by Georgia CITIZENS!!!

Jackie Burnett Maples
Jackie Burnett Maples

I really would hate to see this go. I really would!! Please leave this monument along. This does not remind me of racism, it reminds me of a hard journey coming back from war. How all was affected!

Constance Rutledge
Constance Rutledge

Jackie Burnett Maples. WOW. Why don't you ask black people who are US citizens & taxpayers just like you what it reminds THEM of ?? The civil war was a very NASTY example of the wealthy minority duping the impoverished & DUMB majority into fighting & dying in an attempt to preserve their lavish & UGLY lifestyles. The state's articles of secession clearly state that the war was started primarily because of SLAVERY. I had several ancestors who fought for the south & NONE of their descendants who I knew were proud of it. Why do so many southerners still have vile delusions of grandeur about the antebellum south ?? It's incredible & embarrassing. \U0001f644

Donald Bush
Donald Bush

its all about money ,i beat they want a muslim on the broad

Caroline Herrera
Caroline Herrera

Jfc does the KKK just watch every AJC post so they can comment the most racist things they can think of immediately??? Yall are ridiculous and pretty selfish.

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