Mar 22, 2023 - News

Stone Mountain Park could shed its Confederate memorial designation

Stone Mountain carving of Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Tell and Robert E. Lee

The carving of three Confederate leaders, Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, at Stone Mountain State Park. Photo: Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images

Some DeKalb County lawmakers are once again trying to remove the Confederate memorial designation from Stone Mountain Park.

Driving the news: House Bill 794 would drop the "memorial" wording from the park's official name and rename its oversight board to the Stone Mountain Park Association.

  • It would also eliminate requirements that the board preserve the carvings of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson on the mountain and sell Confederate memorabilia.

Why it matters: While Stone Mountain is Georgia's largest shrine to the Confederacy, its history is unknown to many people. No Civil War battles took place there.

What they're saying: State Rep. Billy Mitchell, a Democrat from Stone Mountain and one of the chief sponsors of the bill, said Monday in a press release that legislators want to implement "needed changes to the false history of the park and the carving."

  • Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur), another co-sponsor of the bill, said the park is an "important asset for our county" and needs to change its course of "honoring the Confederacy and adherence to a 'Lost cause.'"

Yes, but: There's a state law on the books that prohibits any changes to the carving.

Of note: Mitchell introduced similar legislation in 2021, but it did not make it out of the House.

Catch up quick: Local activists, residents and elected officials have campaigned for changes to Stone Mountain Park.

  • A proposal released by the association in 2021 calls for, among other things, creating an exhibit telling the origins of the carvings of the Davis, Lee and Jackson, according to the AJC.

What we're watching: Since H.B. 794 was introduced late, it's not likely to progress this year. But bills that don't pass this year remain alive in 2024.

Go deeper: New documentary explores Stone Mountain's history


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