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Redeeming the Cyclorama: Why the century-old attraction is anything but a monument to the Confederacy
Conceived in Chicago, created in Milwaukee, and premiered in Minneapolis, the Cyclorama was meant to celebrate the Union’s great triumph in capturing Atlanta and hastening the end of the Civil War. But when the painting moved South, new audiences flipped its meaning, bastardizing the spectacle into a testament to white Southern pride. For decades, it was a masterpiece of misinterpretation. Now, it has a new life at the Atlanta History Center.
The idea of an MLK monument, which would reference a line from his most famous speech, has become the subject of a fierce outcry among Confederate sympathizers and King’s contemporaries alike.
Barnes, a throwback to Georgia’s once mighty but now dismantled Democratic machine, was eager to talk about the South’s contradictions. And, as the governor who oversaw the revamp of Georgia’s state flag back in 2001—which removed the battle emblem and arguably cost him reelection in 2002—few are more uniquely qualified.
Some people learn the true history and change. Others live with the myth and perpetuate hate and discrimination, and, in its darkest form, violence.