How do people feel about Stone Mountain?

Perspectives on Stone Mountain from the Monument documentary

View of carving and Stone Mountain Park grounds, 1928

View of carving and Stone Mountain Park grounds, 1928. Atlanta History Photograph Collection, VIS.170.4471.001, Kenan Research Center at Atlanta History Center 

Perspectives on Stone Mountain from the video

In Monument: The Untold Story of Stone Mountain, many people spoke about their experiences at Stone Mountain and their opinions of the monument. Hearing different perspectives can help us understand why the history of this monument is so complicated.  

Dr. Cynthia Neal Spence, a professor at Spelman College, shared a story about how her father did not feel comfortable visiting Stone Mountain because of its connection with the Ku Klux Klan. Dr. Spence’s father felt that the symbolism and use of the mountain showed reverence, or showed respect to, ideas that were harmful to African Americans. He felt that, due to these ideas, the mountain was not safe to visit.  

In the documentary, you also heard from Mrs. Barron, the daughter of the last carver of Stone Mountain, Roy Faulkner. Because of her family’s connection to Stone Mountain, Mrs. Barron wants to preserve and protect the monument. Unlike Dr. Spence, Mrs. Barron feels that the carving is not intentionally harmful but was meant to remember the men who gave their lives to the Confederacy during the Civil War.   

What should we do when a place makes some people feel happy and excited and other people feel fearful and upset? In the case of Stone Mountain, Mrs. Barron feels proud of her father’s accomplishment, but the monument makes Dr. Spence feel unwelcome and unsafe. Of course, that is a big question! That is what makes the monument on Stone Mountain controversial—a subject people disagree about. The first step to overcoming controversial subjects is understanding the issue and thinking about how something such as the Stone Mountain Monument might make different people feel.  

Whose job is it to make sure people feel safe and welcome at Stone Mountain? 

Though you may not realize it, people are always working to keep each other safe. For example, you might feel safe riding in a car because of your seatbelt. Someone invented the seatbelt to keep drivers and passengers safe in vehicles. Additionally, there are laws that prohibit dangerous road behavior like running a red light or driving too fast. These laws are in place to keep all drivers safe.   

But what about feeling welcome? Have you ever been to a new place where you didn’t know anyone? Maybe a new school, sports team, or camp? How did you feel? What things and people helped you feel accepted?   

You learned in the documentary how some people feel unsafe or unwelcome going to visit Stone Mountain Park because of the Confederate monument on the mountain. A park should be a place where all members of the community feel welcome. Luckily, laws like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 have been created to help make sure everyone feels accepted within their community, regardless of background. But we all have a part to play in making others feel welcome in a new space.  

When you go to a national park, it is the job of the park rangers to help visitors, keep them safe, and make sure they have fun! On the first day of school, it is up to your teacher to make sure everyone understands the school rules and feels like an important part of the class.   

The same is true with Stone Mountain Park. It is the job of the park officials to help everyone feel safe and welcome. However, you can also contribute to making sure everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience. This could be by following park rules, cleaning up after yourself, or being respectful of other visitors. These actions may seem small, but making others feel part of a community helps us live in a better world. We all have a part to play in helping others!