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Unsurprisingly, Atlanta's Stone Mountain carving is center of controversy again

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Calls for removal of world’s largest bas-relief carving beg question of what should replace it, if anything

Stone Mountain with the carving’s figures appearing to be riding in a Cadillac on 22 inch rims.
The generals, ridin’ high in a Caddy. A compromise?
Curbed illustration by Kimberly Turner; base image: Wikimedia Commons

For generations, Stone Mountain has offered a place for Atlantans and visitors to play, hike, and catch a spectacular view of the Atlanta skyline, stretching from the control tower of Hartsfield-Jackson Airport to the King and Queen in Sandy Springs.

Of course, beyond an amusement park, tourist train, massive fireworks displays, golf course, and so much more, an uncomfortable history looms over the area. And many feel it’s getting more uncomfortable by the day.

Stone Mountain’s most recognizable feature is a bas-relief carving that serves as an homage to Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and President of the CSA Jefferson Davis. The largest sculpture of its kind in the world, the carving took more than 50 years to finish, due to sporadic work.

Understandably, not everyone likes the carving, and there have been calls for decades to remove it.

Now, there’s a renewed push.

Following the events in Charlottesville this past weekend, a Georgia gubernatorial candidate, Stacey Abrams, is calling for the removal of the Confederate monument. According to the AJC, Abrams took to Twitter on Tuesday, calling the carving “a blight on our state” that “should be removed.”

That sentiment echoes a plea made two years ago by Atlanta City Councilman Ivory Young, who said the carving glorifies “terrorists” while arguing for its removal or alteration.

Others have criticized removal efforts. One Georgia lawmaker lambasted the idea of sandblasting Stone Mountain back to a blank slate as “Confederate cleansing.”

The view of downtown and Midtown from the summit of Stone Mountain
Michael Kahn, Curbed Atlanta

The proclamation echoes a tongue-in-cheek proposal released two years ago that called for the addition of famous Georgians to the mountain’s face, including Outkast’s Big Boi and Andre 3000; others later called for the addition of icons such as Margaret Mitchell, Martin Luther King Jr., and Jimmy Carter.

While the proposals may be far fetched, other suggestions from last year show there’s no shortage of creative solutions.

So, as Georgia grapples with the future of Stone Mountain, what is the answer?