STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. — As the future of Stone Mountain Park continues to be discussed, as the world’s largest Confederate memorial and a reminder of the past, a historic African-American neighborhood tucked behind Stone Mountain village wants to be preserved for many years to come.
Shermantown residents fear the community’s rich history may soon be forgotten.
The ongoing conversations of whether the Stone Mountain Park monument represents "hate or heritage" have been going on for decades. But residents said that if Stone Mountain is a topic of conversation, Shermantown should be mentioned every time.
Betty Dickerson-Bloxham, who owns a business in Shermantown, said the time is now.
“People are not willing to accept things that are written in stone. They want change,” she said.
Only two small historic markers indicate the location of Shermantown. The neighborhood was designated for the Black residents of Stone Mountain during segregation.
Dickerson-Bloxham said the community’s history hasn’t been preserved and is only passed down through oral history.
“I think it should be elevated because it’s not mentioned enough. It’s not as important as it should be. That’s an outstanding honor to have a place called Shermantown,” she said.
Longtime resident Gloria Brown said that as new residents buy homes in Shermantown, the history slowly becomes forgotten.
“It’s many people that move here and never heard it called Shermantown,” Brown said.
She fears the history of Shermantown will be watered down with time.
“You can find something about the Ku Klux [Klan] and the whites and the Blacks. But you don’t hear the good parts about it. All you hear is the bad,” she said.
Brown said the good part is the resilience of the residents and the sense of community.
The bad is still vivid in her memory.
Historians say that Shermantown had a front-row seat to watch Klan members drive through their neighborhood to get to the top of the mountain for rituals and meetings.
As the future of the park continues to be discussed, Atlanta historian and storyteller King Williams said the future of Shermantown needs preservation and plans.
“Shermantown, that history is not included in Stone Mountain Park. It’s only been recently with a lot of grassroot activists to even have that included in the national conversation about Stone Mountain.” Williams said.