Leaders kick off initiative to remove Confederate monuments across Georgia

ATLANTA — Civil rights organization, clergy and other leaders gathered Thursday to launch a campaign to remove Confederate monuments across Georgia.

Channel 2's Steve Gehlbach was at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights as leaders announced the project. The push comes as thousands of visitors come to Atlanta for the Super Bowl.

The initiative is part of a statewide effort led by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the NAACP to allow communities to decide if they want to keep Confederate symbols in public spaces.

Actions will include a grassroots movement to advocate for the legislation and a rally the Saturday before the Super Bowl next month.

"We have to send the message, and the message is clear here in Atlanta, Georgia, that we don't stand for hate. We don't stand for symbols of hate. We don't stand for divisive symbols that have divided our country from the very beginning," Gerald Griggs, the Vice President of the Atlanta NAACP. "


The movement began three years ago with a Confederate monument that still stands: The massive carving on the side of Stone Mountain featuring three prominent confederate leaders.

“There is no historical context for Stone Mountain, period," Richard Rose, President of the Atlanta NAACP said. "Nothing happened at Stone Mountain. Lee, Davis and Jackson didn’t ride up the mountain.”

Some residents didn't agree.

"It's history, that's all it is," Bernard Adams said. "If, you know, we talk about racism, racism isn't a symbol. It's a person."

Part of Thursday's launch was digital. A company called 22-squared created an app called "Invisible Hate," which uses augmented reality to view a monument and bring up information about it.

The NAACP also called out Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance-Bottoms, arguing that changing the name of one street is not enough and that the city needs to lead the nation. In September, Bottoms signed a bill to rename "Confederate Avenue" in southeast Atlanta to "United Avenue."

"We are calling on elected officials who are now trumpeting the Super Bowl and putting up murals to act on social justice issues now," Griggs said.

Gehlbach reached out to officials at Stone Mountain, who said removing the carving would require changes to state law.

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