Confederate removal fight extends to KKK birthplace Stone Mountain

STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. -- There's no bigger monument to the Confederacy than a towering sculpture carved into the side of Stone Mountain, outside Atlanta.

The carving of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson is larger than Mount Rushmore.

Edward Williams has lived near it for almost 20 years. When he looks at the sculpture, he says he fells that "the war continues."

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The massive sculpture on Stone Mountain

CBS News

Though no battles were fought there, it's a tourist attraction that even includes a laser light show. But the mountain is also considered the symbolic birthplace of the modern Ku Klux Klan, which had gathered there since 1915.

In 2015, white supremacists rallied there and clashed with counter-protesters.

It's why Williams and others have now started petitions to remove or alter the monument.

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Edward Williams

CBS News

"These images are individuals that lost a war, that wanted to maintain slavery, that wanted to maintain a way of life that excluded my people and other minorities," Williams said.

But it's a complicated issue. One unlikely voice for moving past the monuments debate is civil rights icon and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young.

"I think it's too costly to re-fight the Civil War. We have paid too great a price in trying to bring people together," Young said.

But in Tampa, Florida Thursday, opponents of a statue of a rebel soldier said they quickly raised the $70,000 needed to remove it.

Across the country, more than 100 schools and nearly 500 roads and highways bear the names of Confederates. In total, there is an estimated 1,500 symbols to the Confederacy.

Jack Christensen, a great-great-grandson of one of them -- Gen. Stonewall Jackson -- spoke to CBS News by phone. "We are ashamed of the monument but not Stonewall Jackson himself. We are ashamed because it is an image of white supremacy that many people interpret," he said.

Some groups are planning peaceful protest on the lawn in front of the carving. A self-proclaimed KKK member made a request for a permit too: To burn a cross on top of the mountain. It was denied.