• The Magnolia Literacy Project

LaWanda Dickens "Stone Mountain: Hiking for My Ancestors"

Updated: May 24

This poem was motivated by Dickens' fondness for Stone Mountain and her conversations with two friends, African American war veterans, who choose not to visit the historic site, which honors confederate soldiers. Pictured below is Dickens during three of her visits to Stone Mountain.

An educator, writer, and former journalist, Dickens is a Brookhaven, Mississippi, native and graduate of Jackson State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in English/Journalism and a Master of Arts in English. She also attended Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, where she studied Composition and Rhetoric. Her research interests include Hip Hop studies; service-learning in college composition courses; and students' transfer of classroom knowledge to campus and community leadership.


"Stone Mountain: Hiking for My Ancestors"


Stone Mountain is the best part of visiting Atlanta.

This morning, I will go for a nice hike.

It's a friendly mountain that understands me,

Just the right amount of rigor and rest.


Two friends of mine, war veterans,

Told me they don't care for Stone Mountain

Because it commemorates confederate soldiers.


I get it.

It's hard enough being Black,

And haunted by symbols of hate

That represent people who inflicted deep-rooted pain.


I can only imagine what it must feel like

To be a Black Soldier at Stone Mountain,

A Black Soldier, unrepresented,

Confronted by the chilling presence

Of three demons on horses.

Wounds re-opened,

Service mocked.


But as for that ugly, nasty ringworm

On the side of Stone Mountain,

The antifungal ointment

Will someday be applied.

And I will keep hiking

Because I get a kick

Out of disturbing the peace

Of dead soldiers

Who fought against

My Ancestors’ human rights.


The mere fact that I can stand

At the top of Stone Mountain,

As the hope and dream of my Ancestors,

Means those dead, racist soldiers will never R.I.P.


The feeling is triumphant.



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