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Atlanta History Center to debut film about Stone Mountain’s Confederate monument

The Confederate carving on Stone Mountain as seen the trailer for the Atlanta History Center documentary film "Monument: The Untold Story of Stone Mountain."

By John Ruch

The Atlanta History Center (AHC) is premiering its first-ever documentary film with a look at the history of the Confederate monument carved on Stone Mountain.

“Monument: The Untold Story of Stone Mountain” will launch on Jan. 12 on the AHC website and YouTube. A companion website includes photos, a timeline and other resources.

“This documentary is designed to inspire deeper learning and conversation about history that we as a state, and a country, share,” says the website.

A 1922 gathering of the Ku Klux Klan atop Stone Mountain, as seen in the trailer for “Monument.”

AHC President and CEO Sheffield Hale said it’s an entirely in-house production overseen by Kristian Weatherspoon, the vice president of digital storytelling. The film brings together two major trends at the AHC in recent years: a move toward more community-based and nontraditional forms of exhibits and education, and major efforts to present Georgia’s Confederate monuments in the context of slavery, Jim Crow racism and “Lost Cause” mythology.

Among those nontraditional efforts has been a COVID-19 pandemic collection of artifacts donated by the general public and participation in “Made by Us,” a nationwide museum team-up of programming leading up to America’s 250th anniversary in 2026.

On Civil War contextualization, the AHC in recent years became home to the enormous “Battle of Atlanta” Cyclorama painting and pairs it with an exhibit addressing “Lost Cause” fallacies and revisionism. In 2016, the AHC produced a “toolkit” for how to add historical context information to Confederate monuments and memorials, and in 2017 published a white paper on Stone Mountain’s history.

The monumental carving on Stone Mountain, an enormous dome of natural volcanic rock in DeKalb County, features Confederate president Jefferson Davis and Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson on horseback. The mountain itself doubles as a park with a troubling past that includes its use as the ceremonial rebirth place of the Ku Klux Klan in 1915. Protected from removal by state law, the carving has become an epicenter of debate about the future of Confederate memorials as many have come down in Georgia and across the South.

The carving’s complicated timeline and segregationist motivations are among the factors the film promises to explore. Work on the carving began in the 1920s, but the project stalled out for decades before reviving in the 1950s as a reactionary symbol against the Civil Rights movement. It was completed in 1972.

Asks one interviewee in the film’s trailer: “Does this park memorializing the Confederacy represent where we, as Georgians, want to be in the 21st Century? That’s what we have to deal with.”


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