The famous outdoor relief sculpture depicting Confederate leaders on Stone Mountain in Georgia has come under attack from the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP. The chapter's leader is calling for the removal of the Confederate Memorial Carving that depicts Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.
A press release from Richard Rose, the president of the Atlanta chapter of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, calls for the elimination of the Confederate carving, calling it a "glorification of white supremacy."
"It is time for Georgia and other Southern states to end the glorification of slavery and white supremacy paid for and maintained with the taxes of all its citizens," the release states.
"History reminds us that despite the hero status accorded to Robert E. Lee, the West Point educated Lee was a traitor who led the military effort of the breakaway states, including Georgia."
The release continues, "The insurrection's sole purpose was to create a separate nation that would maintain the enslavement of generations of African descendants."
Rose said in a phone interview with The Times on Tuesday that "symbols demonstrate people's mindset. They mean something. There are monuments all over the South... that were erected to demonstrate and celebrate white supremacy."
He said that the art work is also inappropriate because none of the Confederate leaders depicted hails from Georgia.
"The heritage we should be celebrating is the U.S. heritage. We're not a separate nation," Rose said. He added that he is working with local lawmakers to push this issue forward.
In an interview with local Atlanta WSB-TV, Rose said that the Confederate carvings "can be sandblasted off or someone can carefully remove a slab of that" to sell at auction to the highest bidder.
He also said, "Our tax dollars should not be used to commemorate slavery."
The Stone Mountain Memorial Assn., which manages the state-owned Stone Mountain Park where the carving is located, says on its website that it receives no tax dollars and is self-supporting.
Rose's comments come days after the South Carolina Legislature agreed to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse. In recent weeks, there have also been calls for the removal of public sculptures and memorials commemorating Confederate and other Southern leaders in Texas and other states.
The impetus for these recent events was the June shooting deaths of nine people at a predominantly black church in Charleston, S.C. Dylann Roof, 21, has been charged with murder in the shooting. Photographs have emerged of Roof showing him posing with the Confederate flag.
The Confederate Memorial Carving is believed to be the highest relief sculpture in the world, located 400 feet off the ground on the side of Stone Mountain. A popular tourist attraction, the massive carving was completed in 1972 and depicts Davis, Lee and Jackson on horseback.