Stone Mountain, GA. In 1915, William J. Simmons, a former Methodist preacher, launched a campaign to reestablish a new era of the Ku Klux Klan. Inspired by the film “The Birth of a Nation,” Simmons led a small group to the summit of Stone Mountain to set a cross ablaze in advance of the film’s debut.
At the time of the Klan’s resurgence, Stone Mountain was owned by Samuel Venable, who was a quarry operator. Mr. Venable was a fan of “The Birth of a Nation,” and accompanied Simmons on that November night to become an active member of the Klan, hosting regular ceremonies on the mountain.