Stone Mountain and the Resurrection of the Klan

The history of the Ku Klux Klan is deeply intertwined with Stone Mountain. Black journalists have often referred to Georgia as the Klan’s birthplace and consistently linked Stone Mountain to their denunciation of the Klan’s actions.

The original Klan was formed by Confederate veterans in Pulaski, TN in the years following the end of the Civil War. But this first iteration of the Klan was quashed by federal efforts during Reconstruction, including legislation specifically targeting Klan tactics.

Even before the beginning of the engraving work that would create the Confederate memorial on the mountain’s face in the mid-1920s, the Klan was reborn at the mountain’s summit. The second Klan was inaugurated there in 1915 and grew rapidly as the circle of targets for hatred expanded to include Jews, Catholics, and immigrants, as well as Black Americans. The second Klan was a spent force by the late 1930s, but after the Second World War, a new iteration of the Klan emerged—once again using Stone Mountain as a backdrop.[1]

Black reporters saw the Klan and Stone Mountain as inextricable. In 1945, C.W. Rice, the editor of the Negro Labor News, was quoted by the Weekly Review (AL) speaking of Stone Mountain as “where the huge burning cross was lighted a few nights ago,” though he also noted that their intimidation efforts had not impeded Black advancement: “in Georgia, the birthplace of the Klan, Negroes have made the greatest progress.”[2] He went on to talk about how the Klan’s ambitions were a “losing battle” and that “despite all this race hating propaganda, the white people of the South are changing their minds in favor of helping the Negro to find his place beside other citizens.”[3]

The Detroit Tribune also observed the Klan cross-burning that year, reporting that “not many nights ago, on the summit of Stone Mountain over-looking Atlanta, the lurid glare of a fiery cross pierced the darkness for miles around. It had been placed there by the Klan… [The Klan] is reorganizing in Georgia, the home of its birth, just as it did after World War I.”[^4] The article went on to say that the Klan “has no right to exist.”[^5] Despite the historic origins of the Klan in Tennessee, these Black reporters identified Georgia as the “mother” of the Klan—and Stone Mountain as its cradle.[^6]

Other Black reporters accurately located the Klan’s historic birthplace in Pulaski, but still identified Georgia as the epicenter of the Klan’s campaign of terror. The Cleveland Call and Post reported the “traditional fiery cross” that “was burned as a climax of celebration, and Dr. Samuel Green of Atlanta, current ‘Grand Dragon’ of the order which had its formation on Halloween night, 1866, in Pulaski, Tenn. [sic]”[4] The Call and Post fiercely condemned the monument and the Klan activities, calling the Klansmen “white-sheeted Georgia Crackers” and the “bigoted bed-sheeters.”[5]

Likewise, an editorial in the California Eagle signed “C.A.B.” linked the events on Stone Mountain to rising Klan activities in Los Angeles. The editorial noted that the Klan attacks and intimidations in Los Angeles had led to stabbings and beatings. “Forging a chain of hate and making its bid for White Supremacy across the nation from Stone Mountain in Georgia to California,” the piece stated, “the Klan is staging a reign of terror against Negro, Chinese, Jewish and Mexican Americans.”[6] The author identified Stone Mountain as the spiritual fountainhead of the Klan, spreading its venom all the way to the west coast.

Justin Seward


Bigart, Homer. “99 Years of Ku Klux Klan: It All Started Innocently…” Tampa Bay Times, 60.

C.A.B. “On the Sidewalk.” California Eagle, June 20, 1946, 1.

Cleveland Call and Post. “Ku Klux Klan Burns Fiery Crosses to Signal Rebirth in Dixie.” May 18, 1946, 1.

Detroit Tribune. “The Klan Girds Again.” 6.

Rice, C.W. “No Fear of K.K.K.,” Weekly Review, 1.

Tampa Bay Times. “Revived Klan Burns Fiery Crosses On Stone Mountain,” May 10, 1946, 1.

  1. (Bigart, “99 Years of Ku Klux Klan: It All Started Innocently…,” Tampa Bay Times, 60.) ↩︎

  2. Rice, "No Fear of K.K.K." ↩︎

  3. (Rice, “No Fear of K.K.K.”) ↩︎

  4. The original Klan was formed in 1865, not 1866 as reported in the
    Cleveland Call and Post article. ↩︎

  5. Cleveland Call and Post, “Ku Klux Klan Burns Fiery Crosses to
    Signal Rebirth in Dixie.” ↩︎

  6. (C.A.B., “On the Sidewalk.”) ↩︎