Last month, Gov. Brian Kemp made history when he appointed the pastor of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Athens to chair the Stone Mountain Memorial Association. The Rev. Abraham Mosley is the first Black chairman of the association—and he doesn’t shy away from the state park’s history of white supremacy and racism.
“Hopefully we will make tomorrow better for generations to come,” he said. “That’s what I look for.”
However, if people are looking for him to push for the removal of Confederate iconography, such as the mountain’s stone carving of Confederate leaders, they might be disappointed. “This is the past,” he said, motioning to the mountainside carving. “You can erase it. You can put a flag or you can put anything over that. Will it really take away what it stands for?”
Current state law also stands in the way of those looking to change the face of the mountain. It states, “the memorial to the heroes of the Confederate States of America graven upon the face of Stone Mountain shall never be altered, removed, concealed or obscured in any fashion.”
Stone Mountain has a storied history with racism—being a focal point of white supremacy in the South as a meeting place for Klu Klux Klan rallies for nearly a century, as well as a memorial park that, until recently, presented an apologist viewpoint of the South’s involvement in the Civil War. In spite of that, Mosley said his hope is to turn Stone Mountain into a family destination for people of every race and background.
“I want it to be a place where families can feel comfortable coming,” he said. “No stigma, and there are some changes [that are] in the making.”
In 2018, the park reported an average of 4 million visitors a year.
Mosley said that he has known Kemp for several decades, but his request to chair the board was totally unexpected when the governor asked him to come to his office in Atlanta about six weeks ago. “No, I never would have imagined that was what he wanted to talk about,” he said. “It took me totally by surprise.”
Now, Mosley said he’s optimistic that Stone Mountain can be transformed but recognizes the challenges ahead.
This story comes to Flagpole through a reporting partnership with GPB News, a nonprofit newsroom covering the state of Georgia.
One challenge involves dealing with the Confederate flags in the park. Though law prohibits completely removing them, the Stone Mountain Memorial Association board voted last week to move them to a less prominent location. “These problems didn’t occur overnight, and they’re going to take some time for us to deal with some of these changes,” Mosley said.
Mosley said he has received hate mail and death threats. But he said he is not concerned for his safety. “God is all around me, and my faith and trust is in God,” he said. “I don’t hate anybody. I love them. The only thing that’s going to bring us together is love.”
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