Stone Mountain Park leaders will choose an exhibit creator who speaks the truth

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The names of the candidate exhibition companies were not revealed, nor were the locations of the museums the memorial association planned to visit.

“The truth” that the chosen company will be responsible for telling is not a pretty thing.

The massive mountainside sculpture of Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee was first conceptualized in the 1910s, during the monument-building craze fueled by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. This group sought to immortalize a sanitized version of the Civil War South and its reasons for fighting while simultaneously promoting white supremacy.

Samuel Venable, whose family at the time owned and operated Stone Mountain as a granite quarry, provided the initial lease that allowed the girls to commission a sculpture. Around the same time – and on the same mountain – Venable helped reestablish the Ku Klux Klan. An early suggestion for the sculpture involved including depictions of Klansmen.

By the end of the 1920s, a world war, internal conflicts and financial problems had doomed the initial version of the sculpture. But it was picked up decades later as Georgia Governor Marvin Griffin and other white leaders sought an answer to court-ordered desegregation and the brewing civil rights movement.

The State of Georgia purchased Stone Mountain in 1958, and carving work resumed. It was dedicated in 1970, more than a century after the Civil War.

The new museum exhibit would be built inside Stone Mountain Park’s existing Memorial Hall building.

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