Andrew Young supports Stone Mountain tribute to King

Former mayor criticizes civil rights groups that oppose monument

It’s been less than a week since the Stone Mountain Memorial Association announced plans to build a monument honoring Martin Luther King Jr. on top of Stone Mountain. And while opposition is growing, supporters of the plan just landed a strong ally – Andrew Young.

Several black organizations — most notably the NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference — are strongly opposed to the plan, saying that King’s message of peace and nonviolence conflicts with Stone Mountain’s historic ties to the Confederacy.

“My understanding of Dr. King’s nonviolence movement was to create a reconciliation of races and opinions,” Young said. “[King] said, ‘Either we will learn to live together as brothers and sisters or we will perish together as fools.’ I think it is a wonderful symbolism to have a Freedom Bell on Stone Mountain that would honor Dr. King. It is not only a good idea. It is a necessary idea for this nation to pull together.”

Last Sunday, the Stone Mountain Memorial Association announced that, having secured Gov. Nathan Deal’s support, it would begin plans to build a King monument atop Stone Mountain. It would most likely be a “Freedom Bell,” based on a line in King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech: “Let freedom ring from the Stone Mountain of Georgia.”

The project would also include a museum exhibit focusing on black Civil War soldiers.

Earlier this week, SCLC leader Charles Steele and local NAACP presidents John Evans of DeKalb and Richard Rose of Atlanta, met with Deal about the project.

Their primary objective is to get all remnants of the Confederacy – from the flags to the carving of the Confederate generals – removed from the state-owned Stone Mountain.

But anticipating that that would not happen, as the Confederate symbols are protected by state law, the groups urged Deal to withdraw his support of placing the King honor.

“These frivolous criticisms are trying to one-up people,” Young said. “The civil rights movement was never about one side winning over the other. It was always about coming together.”

Very few African-Americans, aside from key politicians and the King family, were aware that Stone Mountain Memorial Association had been considering this honor for King. Young said he found out last Sunday when the rest of the world did.

While Young is clear on his opinions about the monument, two of Atlanta’s other recent Presidential Medal of Freedom winners – Joseph Lowery and C.T. Vivian — were taking a wait and see approach.

“The very truth is I have not made up my mind. I haven’t decided yet,” Vivian said. “I don’t want to create more problems than we solve.”

During the 1950s and 1960s, Young was deeply involved in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which was founded in 1957 by King. He said while the groups, including the NAACP, have always supported him, “I gave up on them in 1970.”

Young added that the current crop of civil rights leaders have no understanding of history.

“Not a one of them ever took part in a demonstration where their lives were at risk,” Young blasted. “Not a one of them have read a book about King and the movement. They are speaking from emotions, rather than intelligence. And that is suicidal.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Temps in the 90s? It’s a possibility
Temps in the 90s? It’s a possibility

Today: Warm. High: 88 Tonight: Partly cloudy. Low: 67 Tomorrow: Isolated showers. High: 87 Days before the start of fall, highs close to 90 degrees are still in the forecast. And at least one metro Atlanta community, McDonough, faces the possibility of hitting the 90-degree mark, according to Channel 2 Action News.  &ldquo...
Judge accused of denying bathroom break faces ethics probe
Judge accused of denying bathroom break faces ethics probe

When you have to go, you have to go. That’s what public defender Jan Hankins said she was telling Chief Judge Courtney Johnson in a DeKalb County Superior Court courtroom during a murder trial in June. But Johnson denied the urgent pleas, leading to an embarrassing accident, according to court filings and a deputy’s report. The incident...
Georgia 2018: Abrams proposes energy jobs plan
Georgia 2018: Abrams proposes energy jobs plan

House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams. AJC file Democrat Stacey Abrams would seek to train more advanced energy workers, overhaul building codes and permitting standards to encourage more efficiency and create a Georgia “green bank” to offer incentives for environmentally-friendly construction if she’s elected governor....
Protest planned to demand dismissal of teacher who said students couldn’t wear Trump shirts in class
Protest planned to demand dismissal of teacher who said students couldn’t wear Trump shirts in class

A Republican candidate for governor plans to host a protest at River Ridge High School after fall break, his campaign said Monday.  Michael Williams said in a statement that he is upset about, “the administration’s refusal to fire liberal activist teacher, Lyn Orletsky.” Orletsky is on paid administrative leave following...
Georgia Tech student called 911 before shooting, GBI says
Georgia Tech student called 911 before shooting, GBI says

Friends and family said they saw no signs Scout Schultz was under great mental strain before the 21-year-old engineering student was shot dead Saturday night by Georgia Tech police. “I just saw Scout on Thursday, we were planning a board game night,” said Aby Parsons, a friend of Scout’s. “They (Scout) were saying, ‘Wow...
More Stories