When I stopped to talk with James Allen, 65, about the gorgeous mountain view today, it occurred to me that he might very well be sitting on remnants of the steel beams installed on the mountain by African laborers during the carving of Stone Mountain.
The retired first sergeant in the United States Army is also recently retired from the United States Postal Service and newly married (she also works for the Postal Service). Originally from a small town in South Georgia, James’ family relocated to Connecticut when he was six, and just twenty years ago he returned to the South and built a house about a mile from Stone Mountain, which he climbs almost daily when he’s in town (his wife still lives in Connecticut).
“I deserve to live anywhere I want to,” he proudly told anyone that was surprised that he, a black man, was moving to Stone Mountain.
And as we delved briefly into the roots of their surprise and the racist history of the mountain—but how it’s such an amazingly multicultural place now—he produced a furtively-snapped photo on his phone of a white man wrapped in a Confederate flag on top of the mountain from April 12th of this year. I was creeped out especialy by the man’s antagonistic posture, as if he might as well have been wearing a swastika. More than once I have heard hikers comment “we have to do something about those flags” when they pass the Confederate flag flying at the base of the mountain (see video clip below).
One of the reasons this website “flies” flags reflecting the countries of all of the diverse people I meet at the mountain is in some small way to counter the racism, injustice, and “protection of slavery” that the Confederate flag still symbolizes. Many others won’t even come to the mountain, not just because of the offensive flag situation, but because of the park’s primary focus on celebrating this very Old South Confederacy. Just as there are so many new faces at the mountain today, it truly is time to raise new flags.
These are the flags currently flying at the foot of the mountain. Video taken 11/01/14.