let freedom ring

Every now and then something comes down the pike that you know immediately it’s the proper thing to do, and that it just plains makes sense. You also wonder why no one has come up with this obvious idea before.

Stone Mountain Atlanta View by Stone Wayne Hsieh via flickr
View of Atlanta from Stone Mtn

We refer to the story of this week that the Stone Mountain Memorial Association is planning to build a memorial to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. atop the granite mountain. Not only that, but the Association has already earmarked monies to build it, and if all goes well, it will be a done-deal next year.

We particularly like the fact that the proposed monument would be focused on one phrase from the Rev. King’s 1962 speech which says: “Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.” Then, too, the proposal includes development of an African-American Museum on the property, a new element to attract visitors to the park.

Coming at a time when some African-Americans have questioned the carving on the mountain face depicting one part of the Civil War and the Confederacy, it opens the way to more accommodation, while still preserving the past for all people of our area. This should be especially welcoming to the Georgia immigrant community.

We applaud the Stone Mountain Memorial Association, with encouragement from Gov. Nathan Deal, for moving in this direction. It will make the park even more of a mecca not only for Georgians, but it is a welcoming sign to all Americans, even to the entire world.

Two persons on the board of the Stone Mountain Memorial Association are from Gwinnett. They are Vice Chairman Greer Johnson of Duluth and Perry Tindol of Dacula.

We also particularly like that it is thinking in the right direction, progressive and innovative, while seeking to heal the divisions that can come between people of different backgrounds and diverse races. Then, too, we feel that this proposal shows that Georgians “think right,” instead of the backward mode you see in some other parts of our country. It makes us proud to be a Georgian.

Each time we hear Dr. King’s speech, it sends chill bumps up our spine. It is such a powerful speech. And the ending is so awesome. It says:

…And I say to you today my friends, let freedom ring.
From the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire, let freedom ring.
From the mighty mountains of New York, let freedom ring.
From the mighty Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snow capped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!
But not only there; let freedom ring from the Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain in Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill in Mississippi.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we’re free at last!”

Doesn’t it make you proud that Georgia is leading in this new way to honor one of its own, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King?

Indeed, let freedom ring so that we will not only hear it here in Gwinnett, but all over the world.

Editor's Note: This story first appeared at the Gwinnett Forum. Image: Stone Mountain Atlanta View by Stone Wayne Hsieh via flickr and used under a Creative Commons license.
Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack is a native Georgian and veteran newspaperman. He published the weekly Wayne County Press for 12 years; was for 13 years the vice president and general manager of Gwinnett Daily News, and for 13 years was associate publisher of the Gwinnett section of The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. He now publishes, in retirement, Web sites on Gwinnett County, http://www.gwinnettforum.com, and Georgia news, http://www.georgiaclips.com.