Over the years, Stone Mountain Park has evolved into a premier travel destination. Under the guidance of the Stone Mountain Memorial Association (SMMA), a State of Georgia authority established in 1958 to manage the park independently, all additions to the park must seek to preserve the park's ecology, geology, and historical significance (1). Hiking trails and scenic train rides aim to accentuate the location's natural splendor and beauty. Historical building preservation and the adoption of facades resembling architecture from antebellum Georgia seek to conserve southern heritage.
The Confederate Hall Historical and Environmental Center allows visitors to learn more about the origin of the mountain. Interactive science exhibits address the park's ecology and geology. Exhibits also highlight the Native Americans who first resided in Stone Mountain and pioneer settlers. (2) The center also offers visitors the opportunity to learn more about the Civil War and the Memorial Carving. Regular screenings of "The Battle for Georgia-a History of the Civil War in Georgia" depicts the state's involvement in the Civil War (3). An exhibit chronicles the Confederate monument's creation by showcasing original carving designs, scale models, and photographs. The exhibit also features the documentary "The Men Who Carved the Mountain," a short film about making the confederate monument (4).Currently, Stone Mountain Park is the most visited attraction in Georgia. Family-friendly attractions, recreation, seasonal programming, and free laser shows have made the park a tourist favorite (5). However, amidst the park's popularity, national and local campaigns have protested the Confederate monument. Since 2015, activists have sought the dismantling and perhaps rebranding of the park (6). As a response, the State officials have been forthcoming to address opposition and diversified the SMMA board to create more inclusivity (7). The George Floyd protests in the summer of 2020 led to the renewal of opposition and protester occupation of the park (8). In November 2020, the SMMA leadership announced they would re-evaluate the Confederate symbols and tributes throughout the park. Board members favor additions to the park, not subtractions. However, community advocates are looking for more drastic changes that may impact the park's overall appearance (9).
1. “What is SMMA.” Stone Mountain Memorial Association. Accessed December 15, 2020. https://stonemountainpark.org/about-us/what-is-smma/
2. “Confederate Hall.” Stone Mountain Memorial Association. Accessed December 15, 2020. https://stonemountainpark.org/activities/confederate-hall/#
3. “Historical & Environmental Education Center.” Stone Mountain Park. Accessed December 15, 2020. https://www.stonemountainpark.com/Activities/History-Nature/Confederate-Hall
4. "Stone Mountain Park." Explore Georgia. Accessed December 15, 2020. https://www.exploregeorgia.org/stone-mountain/entertainment/theme-parks/stone-mountain-park
5. “Why Stone Mountain is Georgia's Most-Visited Attraction.” Explore Georgia. Accessed December 15, 2020. https://www.exploregeorgia.org/things-to-do/article/why-stone-mountain-is-georgias-most-visited-attraction
6. Massey, Wyatt. “NAACP: Banish Confederate symbols from Stone Mountain in Georgia.” CNN online, July 14, 2015. https://www.cnn.com/2015/07/14/living/feat-stone-mountain-georgia-naacp-confederate-symbol/index.html
7. Bluestein, Greg. “Georgia governor to consider adding diversity on Stone Mountain’s board.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 24, 2017. https://www.ajc.com/news/state--regional-govt--politics/georgia-governor-consider-adding-diversity-stone-mountain-board/jGFuSoL75B8LUBYqmyfA0I/
8. Joyner, Chris & Walker, Marlon A. “Protestors clash in Stone Mountain.” The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, August 15, 2020. https://www.ajc.com/news/protesters-clash-in-stone-mountain/3ZXGYQQJWFB6VAMZSZR74B4DXE/
9. Estep, Tyler. “Panel will weigh how to ‘bring Stone Mountain Park into 21st’” The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, November 16, 2020. https://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta-news/panel-will-weigh-how-to-bring-stone-mountain-park-into-21st-century/24P44ORDSJCSRIF3VYTVAZFNLA/