STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. (AP) The momentum behind a proposed museum exhibit aimed at highlighting the achievements of black Civil War veterans has been slowed somewhat by racist groups and protesters, officials at Stone Mountain Park say.
Those are the same forces that some say led to the need for the exhibit in the first place, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Recent protests and rallies at Stone Mountain _ mostly instigated by people with ties to the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups _ have been major distractions, said Bill Stephens, CEO of the Stone Mountain Memorial Association.
“The protests and rallies have taken a good deal of time here in the first part of the year,” Stephens said. “It has been an interesting time and an unwelcome distraction from some of the planning we have wanted to do.”
Michael Hill, president of the League of the South, a Killen, Alabama-based secessionist and white separatist organization, was surprised to hear that their efforts had indirectly made an impact.
“Our intention was to honor our ancestors and bring attention to the fact that Stone Mountain is a monument to the Confederacy,” Hill said.
“It was not our tactical intention to set back the museum, but I am glad we have,” Hill added. “We don’t support the idea of a museum that would distract from the original intent of Stone Mountain.”
Officials at Stone Mountain are still moving forward with plans to build the museum and hope to make “significant progress during the second half of this year,” Stephens said.
“We are looking at similar efforts elsewhere, identifying researches and scholars who have already done some of this legwork, sourcing exhibit builders and craftsmen whom we can afford to build out and determining where best in our large park and limited interior physical spaces to best locate the exhibit for maximum visitation and impact,” Stephens said.
Planning for the museum exhibit has happened as Stone Mountain has become a symbolic target for and against the symbols of so-called white supremacy _ most notably the Confederate battle flag.