Atlanta History Center premiering documentary on Stone Mountain carving on Jan. 12(Emil Moffatt/WABE)
This story has been updated.
Stone Mountain, GA — The Atlanta History Center will release its new documentary “Monument: The Untold Story of Stone Mountain” on Jan. 12, 2023.
Kristian Weatherspoon, vice president of digital storytelling at the Atlanta History Center, directed the documentary. The film includes a range of deep historical research and perspectives on the Stone Mountain carving offered by historians, scholars, museum professionals and engaged members of the community, according to a press release.
The documentary builds on the work that’s been done since the institution launched its Confederate Monument Interpretation Initiative in 2016, which is led by President and Chief Executive Officer Sheffield Hale, the press release says.
“As I made presentations about the history of the Stone Mountain carving, it became really clear to me that a lot of people, both in Atlanta and around the state, don’t know the full history,” said Hale, who is featured in the film. “This stood out to us at Atlanta History Center as an opportunity to use our historical resources and research to offer a full and accurate history. Informing factual discussions about our state’s shared history is what we do.”
The Stone Mountain carving was proposed in the 1910s by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The early carving effort was linked to the revival of the Ku Klux Klan in 1915, which took place on top of Stone Mountain. Though that initial effort was left partially completed for decades, segregationist politician Marvin Griffin took up the cause in 1954 in a campaign speech 57 days after the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling overturned the legal basis for segregation laws.
After being elected governor, Griffin approved the placement of the Confederate Battle Flag on the state flag in 1956 and the purchase of Stone Mountain by the state to complete the carving as a symbol of resistance to integration in 1958. The carving was finished in 1972. Today, Stone Mountain Park is still owned by Georgia. State law requires the Stone Mountain Memorial Association, which governs the park, to maintain “a suitable memorial to the Confederacy.”
“When I was thinking about how to tell this complex history, having a range of perspectives and experiences was really important to me,” Weatherspoon said. “Up until now, many discussions about Stone Mountain haven’t showcased the whole history, which includes the powerful medium of film.”
The 30-minute film is the first documentary short film product by AHC Originals. Other projects addressing different topics in Atlanta and Georgia history — through short-form videos, blog posts, and a podcast — are in the works.
“This medium is new for us as a history center, but it’s an exciting direction,” Hale said. “As we seek to serve as many people as possible, AHC Originals is a critical piece to reaching people who might not visit an exhibition at our museum.”
For more information and to view the film, click here. The webpage also includes extensive primary sources documenting historical evidence presented in the film, further reading, blog posts on related topics and more.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the premiere date. The Atlanta History Center later clarified the date and the story has been updated with the correct information.
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