On August 28, 1963, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. capped his rousing “I Have a Dream” speech with a call to “let freedom ring” across America, including from Stone Mountain, dubbed by some as the Confederate Mount Rushmore. Now, more than a half-century later, Christians plan to gather at the controversial Georgia site to “stand in unity” to “unseat the spirit of racism.”
“We are seeking to gather 30,000 believers and 300 pastors from diverse cultural backgrounds, and denominations. We will gather together to renounce the historic divisions of racism, and petition God for racial reconciliation and revival in our nation,” reads a description of the event, scheduled for August 25, from organizers OneRace Movement.
The free event is titled “OneRace Stone Mountain,” pointing to its location at the historic and controversial site in Stone Mountain, Georgia.
The rock relief at Stone Mountain Park is reportedly the largest bas-relief sculpture in the world. It depicts Confederate heroes Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson. The site is also noted for being where the Klu Klux Klan was officially revived with a cross-burning ceremony in 1915. Although efforts have been made to distance Stone Mountain from its racist history, members of the KKK continue to revere the site. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Advisory Council has been working to get approval to have a “Liberty Bell monument that would celebrate King’s words and place in history” erected atop Stone Mountain.
In addition to convening a coalition of Christians across denominations, OneRace Movement organizers say that among their objectives is to inspire cross-cultural relationships and develop a grassroots movement of racial reconciliation and revival.
“Racial justice is not merely a social issue, it’s a spiritual issue. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the only answer that is potent enough to address the spiritual and social complexities of racial injustice,” reads a statement on the OneRace Movement website.
Montell Jordan, Tasha Cobbs, and Shane and Shane were among listed featured artists participating in OneRace Stone Mountain. Leaders of the OneRace Movement include Co-Executive Directors Billy Humphrey of International House of Prayer (IHOP) Atlanta and Bishop Garland Hunt of The Father’s House church in Atlanta. Among the group’s advisors are Scott and Tami Free, Will Ford, Justin Giboney, Latasha Morrison, and several others.
A similar event was held in April when the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, of the Southern Baptist Convention, and The Gospel Coalition organized an MLK50 Conference in Memphis, Tennessee, to help Christians consider that “racial unity is a gospel issue.”
OneRace Stone Mountain will include a time of worship, in addition to segments on “Healing and Repentance,” “Reconciliation,” “Unity,” and “Justice.”
A video presentation about OneRace Stone Mountain features excerpts of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech that the Civil Rights activist and preacher delivered to a crowd of 250,000 at the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in the nation’s capital.
After stating “I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low” King said his dream involved the arrival of a day when “all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning” this part of the patriotic song, “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”: My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my father died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.
King concluded: “So 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 heightening 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 that. Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia; let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee; let freedom ring from every hill and mole hill of Mississippi. ‘From every mountainside, let freedom ring.’
“And when this happens, and when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every 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 are free at last.’”
According to organizers, attendees at the Stone Mountain rally will “embody” Dr. King’s dream. King was assassinated at 39 while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel (now the National Civil Rights Museum) in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968.