Planned MLK tribute on "Confederate Mount Rushmore" stirs controversy

There's new controversy over old Southern symbols and how to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

A plan to celebrate King involves building a tribute in the same area where four million people a year tour America's biggest shrine to the Confederacy.

When the Confederate memorial at Stone Mountain Park outside Atlanta was first being carved a century ago, this was home turf for the Ku Klux Klan in its heyday. Today, most of this county's 700,000 residents are black, reports CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann.

Stone Mountain, Georgia's most visited attraction, is the "Confederate Mount Rushmore." Etched into its granite face are likenesses of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis. The three heroes of the Old South stand 90 feet tall and 190 feet wide.

"This memorial honors the 900,000 Confederate soldiers that went off to fight to protect their families, their homes and country," Timothy Pilgrim of the Georgia's Sons of Confederate Veterans said.

Georgia is planning to put a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King on top of Stone Mountain. Specifically, and symbolically, a freedom bell of racial reconciliation, something Dr. King dreamed of in his "I Have a Dream" speech for this Georgia community, among others.

"Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia," King said in 1963.

Opposition was instant. Georgia law mandates this park be maintained as a Confederate memorial.

"To put a monument on top of a existing monument is unlawful, disrespectful and inappropriate," Pilgrim said.

The Confederate crowd found unusual allies: the local NAACP was also opposed, along with Charles Steele, Jr.

"It's something that was a dark past of our history, and it needs to be buried in history," Steele said.

Steele leads the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the civil rights group Dr. King co-founded.

"We want to eradicate it. We want to blast it. We want to paint over it. Whatever it takes, that's what we want to do," Steele said.

Here's the twist: many surviving members of King's inner circle support installing the bell. One of them is Georgia Congressman John Lewis.

"The mountain belonged to the people of this state and the people of this nation. Why not?" Lewis said.

In his legendary speech, King said: "Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope."

Stone Mountain remains a symbol for both, depending who you talk to.

The freedom bell proposal needs one more vote by the authority board, which should happen by the end of the year. Georgia's governor has approved the idea. Confederate flag groups plan another rally here next month.