Statement from Black Rose North Georgia on “Rock Stone Mountain” White Power Rally

The legacy of slavery, racial discrimination, racism, and institutional white supremacy are inescapable aspects of life in the US South. In the gap since the Civil Rights and Black Power movements we’ve spent a generation failing to critically examine or confront how these issues continue to manifest themselves in our society–not only in the South, but across the United States.

Since the 2015 Charleston Church Massacre, we’ve seen supporters trot out the Confederate Battle Flag as a symbol of some imagined Southern heritage, proudly waving it and proclaiming their support for what they presume the Confederate State of America (CSA) to represent.

Black Lives Matter protesters taking to the streets on May Day, 2015

Black Lives Matter protesters taking to the streets on May Day, 2015. The recent surge in pro-Confederate and white power sentiments is a direct result of the response to police violence against people of color and the Charleston Church Massacre, during which a white supremacist murdered 9 black people in a church basement.

The United States was built on the back of human slavery and racial genocide, but the South is by no means unique in that regard. The CSA, however, and all its symbols, represent an explicit effort to retain the right to enslave black Americans in the economic interests of an elite planter class.

Regional support for the Confederacy was not universal. In North Georgia, Eastern Tennessee, and Northern Alabama, most counties voted against secession. North Georgia counties like Lumpkin, Fannin, and Gilmer were known hideouts for Confederate draft dodgers and deserters–and many locals paid the price for opposing the war.

Modern white supremacist groups, including the Ku Klux Klan and National Socialist Movement have adopted the Confederate Battle Flag as a symbol of their movements. These groups have multiplied many times over since the election of the nation’s first black president and are more well-organized than at any time since the Jim Crow era. There are at least 3 active Klan groups in North Georgia, 5 in other parts of the state. The Southern Poverty Law Center lists 784 hate groups in the US, including 72 KKK and 142 neo-Nazi groups. This is unacceptable.

On April 23rd, white supremacists plan a “Rock Stone Mountain” event, which they describe as an “openly white power March up Stone Mountain”, followed by a concert at an undisclosed location. The Facebook event page, which lists 200+ planned attendees, prominently displays the Confederate Battle Flag.

Confederate Battle Flag in front of Stone Mountain with the hashtag #RockStoneMountain at the top. This image was taken from the "Rock Stone Mountain" event page.

Confederate Battle Flag in front of Stone Mountain with the hashtag #RockStoneMountain at the top. This image was taken from the “Rock Stone Mountain” event page.

Stone Mountain, which features an enormous memorial to Confederate leaders Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and CSA President Jefferson Davis, and Stonewall Jackson etched into its side, is hallowed ground for white supremacists. It was the birthplace of the 2nd incarnation of the Klan and meetings there were common until the park was purchased by the state in 1960. Stone Mountain is also mentioned in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

Several anti-racist groups and individuals have organized All Out ATL, a counter rally and effort to disrupt the “Rock Stone Mountain” event. Black Rose North Georgia acknowledges that not only must we resist organizing efforts by white supremacists, we must push forward in confronting institutional oppression of people of color and members of other marginalized groups.

Black Rose North Georgia endorses and supports the All Out Atlanta event. We will have an active presence and look forward to collaborating with like-minded groups on anti-racist and anti-fascist organizing in North Georgia in the future.