The Confederate Memorial Carving on Stone Mountain, Georgia, is a colossal, high-relief sculpture – the largest in the world – of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, prancing about on horseback in grand Confederate finery, chiseled skillfully, one might even say artfully, into a face of solid granite, just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Sculptors began the carving in 1912, and after decades of fits and starts, in 1963, the Stone Mountain Memorial Association chose Walker Kirkland Hancock, of Gloucester, Massachusetts, to complete the carving. Work resumed in 1964, during the thick of the Civil Rights Movement, and was completed in 1972. The monument is almost three acres in size and is visible for miles from several vantage points. It is now owned by the State of Georgia. Walter Hancock (of Gloucester, Massachusetts), the author of this controversial work, died in 1998.
Public pressure is mounting to address this elephant in the room: That there is, in our inescapable midst, a gargantuan and very public monument extolling treason, slavery and white supremacy. And this monument makes a lot of people, shall we say, uncomfortable.
Let’s assume, purely hypothetically, that Walter Hancock (of Gloucester, Massachusetts) retained authorship (as opposed to ownership) in the Confederate Memorial Carving. Could the (hypothetical) Hancock heirs – as the holders of his (hypothetical) copyright interest in the Confederate Memorial – assuming those heirs were so inclined, prevent the State’s efforts to alter or remove the sculpture? Continue reading