The Week in Confederate Heritage

It’s time for our weekly look at the nationwide retreat of confederate heritage.

A protest in March at Washington and Lee. Photo by Emma Coleman

We begin with this article concerning the possibility of changing the name of Washington and Lee University. “Earlier this month, Mike McAlevey, rector of the Board of Trustees, announced that a decision on the name would be made by the board in June. For supporters of the change, there’s not currently consensus on what a replacement would be. While some have suggested W&L University, members of the alumni group Not Unmindful, which supports the change, have volunteered other options. While there hasn’t been as much momentum toward removing the name of George Washington (himself a slave owner), many see the opportunity as a chance to start fresh. Alison Bell, a professor of anthropology at Washington and Lee and a graduate of the university, said tensions around the name and Confederate iconography heightened in 2017, after violence at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va. The killing of George Floyd and nationwide protests last summer redoubled the conversation, as statues and flags venerating Confederates came down across the country. In July 2020, faculty voted 188 to 51 to change the name. The university, Bell said, can’t control the connotations of the word ‘Lee.’ ‘Nationally and internationally, we can’t control those perceptions and public events like the Jan. 6 incursion on the Capitol. That’s what’s in the public eye, those Confederate flags being waved,’ she said. ‘If we choose to remain aligned with the Confederacy, we’re really going to be, in many people’s view, aligning ourselves with white supremacy.’ In 2018, a panel at the university released a report with recommendations for the institution’s treatment of historical memory. Some of those recommendations, such as renaming buildings and replacing portraits of Lee in military dress, have been enacted by the administration. Others, such as converting Lee Chapel into a full museum, have not. The panel did not recommend changing the name of the university or of the campus sports teams, the Generals. In March, students held a protest asking the university to change the name, or at the very least, hold a special meeting of the Board of Trustees to consider it.”

Photo by Emma Coleman

The article also tells us, “‘Whether it’s today or in 2040, until you decide to change the name of this institution, I can assure you that most Black students will be wary, at the very least, of committing to and staying at this school,’ one student, Enuma Anekwe-Desincé, told the crowd. ‘By continuing to uphold and honor Robert E. Lee, you are showing us and the world, who and what matters to you, and it is not Black people or people of color.’ Otice Carder, a sophomore who was involved in organizing the protest, said that despite attracting what he estimates was 500 people from a university with an enrollment of only 1,820, the event didn’t receive any response from the administration. … Carder, who is gay, is transferring from Washington and Lee this year, he said, in part because of the culture he perceives at the institution. … Campus culture is something that students have also tried to draw attention to. According to its 2020 enrollment report, only 3.4 percent of undergraduates at Washington and Lee are Black. In comparison, the population of Virginia, where the university is located, is about 20 percent Black.”

According to the article, “Some students in recent years have tried to draw attention to the use of the N-word on campus. In 2018, the Ku Klux Klan came to the area, passing out leaflets reading ‘K-K-Keep the Name the Same.’ The university called the group abhorrent and offered security escorts for students, but some felt the incident was reflective of something deeper that the university couldn’t shake. ‘This is a place where different white supremacists feel comfortable coming,’ the student said. While there have been some students advocating to keep the name, the main group opposing the change is an organization of alumni and parents called Generals Redoubt. In the past year, the group has been involved in sending letters to the administration about the name and legacy, arguing that Lee should be honored for his personal qualities and leadership of the university, rather than his involvement in the Confederacy. ‘I am dismayed by the superficial attacks being written by individuals who have never studied Lee’s entire life and thus have no insight into his character,’ wrote alumnus William M. S. Rasmussen in a letter circulated by the organization. ‘Surely we can pardon Lee for Confederate service if we can forgive George Floyd’s long criminal record by naming an endowment after him.’ (Last year, Black alumni endowed a fund named after Floyd to support the Office of Inclusion and Engagement.)” So we see this so-called “Generals Redoubt” is just another white supremacist group.

The article continues, “Recently the organization has advertised free merchandise for supporters, with slogans like ‘Retain the Name’ and ‘General Lee’s College.’ The group offers to deliver the T-shirts and koozies to campus. Generals Redoubt did not respond to a request for comment for this article. ‘Unfortunately, you face a binary choice: capitulation (either in an accelerating cadence to constantly escalating demands, or immediately, on the premise that a quick surrender may save most of the physical plant, excepting statues of course),’ wrote alumnus Kazimierz Herchold to Dudley and the board, in a letter circulated by the organization. ‘Or, you can draw the line, and muster the courage and fortitude to declare that faculty, administration, and students who find the place and its history abhorrent can and should leave immediately.’ The university, for its part, says that it is committed to fostering a diverse and equitable community, and that significant efforts are underway to make the institution better.”

The Vance Monument, a 75-foot-tall stone obelisk named for former Confederate military officer, N.C. Governor and U.S. Senator Zebulon Vance, is set to come down, starting the week of May 17. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

This article from Asheville, North Carolina, tells us, “As the process began Monday to remove the Vance Monument in downtown Asheville, the reality of the change sunk in for some longtime Asheville residents. ‘This was Asheville, people remember this,’ said Kevin Roush, watching as workers began taking down the scaffolding around the obelisk, erected in 1897. ‘It wants to go away,’ he mentioned, as if speaking directly to the monument. ‘It doesn’t want to be dividing the city. I wish she had a new home.’ He and some others agree it’s time for the lightning rod of controversy to come down. ‘From my perspective, this has been a long time coming,’ Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer told News 13. ‘I look forward to a new chapter for our city, and I’m excited about the future and planning for a new symbol of our city.’ Eventually, a crew will take away the Vance Monument block by block. According to city, the remnants of the structure will become the property of the contractor, who will dispose of them. The monument was named after former slave owner, N.C. governor and U.S. Senator Zebulon Vance. It is located on a site where enslaved people are believed to have been sold.”

This article updates us on the Vance Memorial removal, saying a part of it has already been removed. “A quarter of the city’s iconic monument to a locally born Confederate governor has been removed, five days into a demolition process that was called for by racial justice activists for years and approved by the City Council in March. According to Asheville Capital Projects Director Jade Dundas, by the afternoon of May 21 the pointed top of the Vance Monument and eight rows of granite blocks had been removed. It is a careful process that has been widely watched by residents, supporters, and opponents of the demolition, some of whom have arrived with Confederate flags. The marker to honor slave owner, Confederate colonel and war-time governor Zebulon Vance, was erected in 1897 with 33 levels of granite blocks and a pointed capstone, said Dundas. By his check, 25 levels were remaining. Work is continuing on the removal of the obelisk, he said. Earlier estimates had said demolition could take as little as 10 days, though that was before a contractor on May 19 found that the marker was hollow and filled with debris that presented a possible danger if it tumbled out. The contract allows up to 45 days for removal.”

We next go to Maryland and this article, which says, “A song alluding to Abraham Lincoln as a ‘tyrant’ and a ‘despot’ and to the Union as ‘Northern scum!’ is no longer Maryland’s official anthem after Gov. Larry Hogan this week approved its repeal — a move that some Republicans say is another example of ‘cancel culture.’ Hogan gave the measure his OK months after the state’s legislature voted to eliminate the long-controversial Civil War-era song, Maryland, My Maryland. ‘We’re repealing the state song. It is a relic of the Confederacy, which is clearly outdated and out of touch,’ Hogan, a Republican, said when he signed the measure on Tuesday. Maryland, My Maryland, sung to the tune of O Tannenbaum, is based on a poem written in 1861 inspired by the Pratt Street Riot on April 19 of that year. The riot saw Southern sympathizers attack the 6th Massachusetts Infantry as they marched through Baltimore on their way to Washington, D.C., days after the South Carolina militia fired the opening shots of the Civil War upon Fort Sumter. At the outbreak of the war, Maryland — which allowed slavery — was one of a handful of ‘border states’ that declined to secede from the Union, but was also unwilling to take up arms against the Confederacy. Despite the state’s official neutrality, many Marylanders fought on both sides during the Civil War. The state was occupied by Union forces for most of the conflict. After it was composed, Maryland, My Maryland quickly became an anthem in the Confederacy, used as a rallying cry against what Southerners saw as Northern oppression. It was adopted as the state’s official song in 1939, years after one governor rejected it, citing its inflammatory and divisive lyrics. By the 1960s, there were rumblings about replacing it. Beginning in the 1970s, there were numerous attempts to repeal it, but none until the latest measure managed to make it past lawmakers.”

The article also tells us, “The lyrics to Maryland, My Maryland were written by Baltimore native James Ryder Randall, a journalist and poet who lived in the South, ‘as a plea for his native state to take what he saw as its rightful place among the states who left the Union to form the Confederacy,’ according to a Maryland State Archives study of the song commissioned by the legislature in 2015, amid one of the numerous efforts to repeal it. Randall would later go on to serve in the Confederate navy before returning to journalism after the war. His song includes typically unsung lyrics that allude to ‘The despot’s heel’ of President Lincoln. The words also implore Marylanders not to allow Virginia to ‘call in vain’ for secession, suggesting instead they will spurn the ‘Northern scum!’ In a premonition, the song even echoes the infamous cry – ‘Sic semper tyrannis!’ (‘Thus always to tyrants!’) of Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, as the actor leapt from the stage at Washington’s Ford’s Theater after shooting the president on April 15, 1865. When Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s forces crossed into Maryland near Frederick in September 1862, his army’s band struck up Maryland, My Maryland, apparently hoping it would stir up secessionist sentiment, the archives report said. After the war, the song remained popular, and by the time it was officially adopted as Maryland’s state song it had ‘already functioned as the de facto state anthem’ for many years, the report said.”

This Jan. 4, 2020 file photo shows a sign for at Fort Bragg, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Seward, File)

With this article we find, “The push to remove Confederate names from Pentagon properties, including storied Army posts, could eventually affect hundreds of items and facilities, the chair of the congressionally chartered Naming Commission said Friday. Michelle Howard, a retired Navy admiral who heads the commission, told reporters her group began its work in March, with an interim report due to Congress in October and a final report a year later. She said the eight-member group is still developing the renaming criteria and will begin its site visits with a trip to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. The academy faces scrutiny because it has a barracks named for Robert E. Lee, commanding general of the rebel army of the Confederate States of America. Howard said the commission is required by Congress to consider renaming ‘anything that commemorates the Confederate States of America or any person that served voluntarily with the Confederate States of America.’ This applies only to Defense Department properties, not state-owned military facilities.”

The article concludes, “Howard said the commission’s mandate from Congress is to look more broadly, and that it will consider the naming of military base streets, for example, as well as ships, aircraft and Defense Department buildings. The only federal military item explicitly exempted by the legislation is grave markers, she said. ‘Once we get down to looking at buildings and street names, it potentially could run into the hundreds,’ she said. The Navy has identified for renaming consideration the USNS Maury, an oceanographic survey ship that was named for Cmdr. Matthew Maury, who resigned from the U.S. Navy to join the Confederacy during the Civil War. Howard said a key part of the commission’s work will be consulting with local civic leaders to consider their views.”

This article from Jackson County, North Carolina, tells us, “While Asheville’s Vance monument is coming down, the statue of the Confederate soldier in Sylva remains in place, but with some alterations. Those alterations, approved by Jackson County Commissioner, will cover some controversial sections of the statue. Commissioners have approved the spending of $13,000 for three plaques which will cover the parts of the ‘Sylva Sam’ statue that used to depict a Confederate flag with the words, ‘Our Heroes of the Confederacy.’ Right now, those sections are covered in plywood, and the statue is circled with fencing. Three bronze plaques are coming, and Commissioner Gayle Woody said one will be large. ‘It does mention that this is a Civil War monument and then below that, we’re going to have three stars. Below that, ‘E. Pluribus Unum,” she said. Commissioners voted last summer to keep the statue in front of the historic courthouse with the changes. Sylva Sam had become a flashpoint for opposing views — whether to keep it or remove it. ‘What we tried really hard to do was listen to people and then reach what we felt would be a compromise,’ Woody said. Woody said she knows the decision is agreeable to some and not to others. ‘I think it’s time for it to go,’ said Lianna Costantino, with Reconcile Sylva. She said leaving it in place is a safety threat. ‘I think it’s not following suit with the rest of the South who are taking down these monuments that are antiquated and divisive,’ Costantino said.”

The article continues, “Then there are those who think the statue should have been left as it was to begin with. ‘Ideally, I would have rather just seen it left alone,’ said Chad Jones, with Jackson County Unity Coalition. He said he believes the statue can teach history. ‘History has warts, and you can either learn from it or you can be doomed to repeat it. So, I would rather have reminders around of where we made mistakes than to act like they never happened,’ Jones said.” That, of course, is utter nonsense. Statues do nothing to teach history, and whatever history they may mention is a phony version that is cherry picked.

The article also says, “Resident and former local NAACP President Enrique Gomez said covering parts of the statue doesn’t fully address a wider issue. ‘Covering up the statue, particularly those things that are offensive, actually it gives us a perfect metaphor of what systemic racism is like,’ Gomez said. Jones said the commissioners’ compromise allows Sylva Sam to stay put. ‘If you’re not willing to compromise, you’re as big a part of the problem as the original problem that started it all,’ Jones said. Woody said E. Pluribus Unum is the key message. … The plaques are expected to be up in about two months, and additional signage will be added in the vicinity with the names of Civil War soldiers from Jackson County who fought for both the Confederacy and the Union.”

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

This article from Atlanta, Georgia, tells us, “Late last month, on the state holiday formerly known as Confederate Memorial Day, Bill Stephens stood behind a podium in a crowded ballroom. The longtime CEO of the Stone Mountain Memorial Association was, finally, ready to reveal what had come from months of behind-the-scenes discussions about the future of Georgia’s only controversial tourist attraction. ‘What I am proposing first,’ Stephens said, ‘is that we should tell the whole story of Stone Mountain Park. And tell it truthfully. And start with the carving.’ The carving, of course, is the three-acre homage to Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, and Robert E. Lee that’s embedded in Stone Mountain’s northern face. The Confederates on horseback make up the world’s largest bas-relief sculpture and, presumably, the world’s largest monument to the Lost Cause. The story of how it got there spans more than half a century, beginning not in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War but in the Jim Crow era of the early 1900s. The bulk of the work was done during the Civil Rights era. It wasn’t completed until the Nixon Administration. Stephens’ proposal, one of several expected to be considered Monday by the memorial association’s board of directors, is to explore all of the history in a new exhibit at the park’s on-site museum. It’s an idea, Stephens admits, that’s largely driven by financial pressure — and one that’s likely to make few people happy. Groups like the Sons of Confederate Veterans want the park to embrace the Civil War South even more tightly; activists would prefer that just about everything that honors the Confederacy be removed from the taxpayer-owned property. As for the story of the carving itself: Stephens admits it’s ugly. Historians agree.”

We learn, “The truth, those scholars told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, is about much more than the Confederacy. The truth is about white supremacy and residents’ reactions to movements for equality. Nothing of significance even happened at Stone Mountain during the Civil War. ‘The monument itself is not about history,’ said Kevin M. Levin, a Civil War scholar and educator based in Boston. ‘It’s about memory, about the people who put it up and what they were trying to do.’ The first substantive call for a Confederate carving on Stone Mountain came from a June 1914 editorial published in the Atlanta Georgian. It proposed a 70-foot tribute to Robert E. Lee. C. Helen Plane, the honorary life president of the Georgia division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, took the pitch and ran with it. By the early 1900s, the United Daughters of the Confederacy had become an influential group across the South and one of the primary peddlers of Lost Cause mythology, according to historians. They perpetuated the lie that the Civil War was about states’ rights, not slavery, going so far as censoring textbooks that claimed otherwise. The UDC also erected scores of monuments throughout the South. They were ostensibly about memorializing Confederate soldiers, but historians say their real aim was to immortalize a warped history of the war — and remind newly emancipated Blacks of their place in society. Jim Crow laws would limit their ability to vote, work and get an education; public monuments would remind them who was in charge, historians say. And a carving on Stone Mountain would send the loudest message yet. ‘It’s really part of that whole era,’ said Grace Elizabeth Hale, an American studies and history professor at the University of Virginia. ‘It’s only sort of distinction is its grandiosity.’ Plane quickly secured the support of Sam Venable, whose family had owned and operated Stone Mountain as a granite quarry since the 1880s. She also contacted a sculptor.”

The article continues, “Plane wrote to Gutzon Borglum — famed for his bust of Abraham Lincoln at the U.S. Capitol and, later, his work on Mount Rushmore — in December 1915. The second iteration of the Ku Klux Klan had been born in a fiery ceremony atop Stone Mountain just a few weeks earlier, likely with Venable’s involvement. ‘Birth of a Nation,’ the now-infamous film that glorified the Reconstruction-era Klan, the Lost Cause, and racial violence, had debuted in Atlanta shortly thereafter. ‘Nostalgia for a white supremacist past,’ said Emory University professor Joe Crespino, ‘was driving the revival of the Klan at the same time it was driving the memorialization efforts of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.’ In her letter, Plane said the UDC would be getting a cut from the profits from an upcoming screening of the film — and suggested that Klansmen be included in Borglum’s forthcoming masterpiece. ‘Since seeing this wonderful and beautiful picture of Reconstruction in the South, I feel that it is due to the Ku Klux Klan which saved us from Negro domination and carpet-bag rule, that it be immortalized on Stone Mountain,’ Plane wrote. ‘Why not represent a small group of them in their nightly uniform approaching in the distance?’ The suggestion didn’t take. The sculptor did, however, dramatically expand upon Plane’s original vision. He would carve not just Lee but fellow Confederate General Stonewall Jackson and Confederate president Jefferson Davis into the mountain. The trio would be on horseback. Hundreds of soldiers would flank them. It would be the eighth wonder of the world. Work started slowly, thanks to World War I and the slog of fundraising. But Borglum was carving on the mountain by 1923 and, a year later, unveiled Robert E.Lee’s completed head. From there, things soured quickly. There were technical problems, financial disputes and a personal spat between Borglum and the president of the newly formed Stone Mountain Confederate Monumental Association. According to Hale, the University of Virginia professor, both men were members of the Klan — and favored different national leaders for the organization. Borglum was fired in Feb. 1925. On April 29, 1928, the replacement sculptor Augustus Lukeman unveiled his own version of Lee’s head — and then blasted Borglum’s unfinished work off the mountain. The carving then would sit for nearly three decades unfinished, with just one giant head. The Great Depression came, then World War II. Access granted to the United Daughters of the Confederacy was revoked by the Venable family, which continued allowing the Klan to hold meetings and rallies on the mountain.”

Continuing the story, “On May 17, 1954, the United States Supreme Court issued its ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. Segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. About two months later, Marvin Griffin announced his campaign to be Georgia’s next governor. The main pillar of his platform was a promise to fight integration, a concept he called ‘an order to us from Washington [to] mongrelize the South.’ Griffin also vowed, often in the same breath, the buy Stone mountain for the state and finally complete the carving. He won the election. After he took office, Griffin and the legislature quickly changed Georgia’s state flag to include the Confederate battle emblem. Griffin’s floor leader at the time, Rep. Denmark Groover, would admit decades later that the change was a response to the federal government’s integration push. This is what historians call ‘massive resistance‘: the coordinated, wide-ranging mission by white Southern leaders to maintain segregation, squash the burgeoning Civil Rights movement and intimidate Black people. It was against that backdrop that the state of Georgia, in early 1958, wrote a check for about $1.1 million and purchased Stone Mountain from the Venable family. While the Civil Rights movement raged, while a Black man born just a few miles from the mountain was leading a nationwide fight for equality, efforts to create the world’s largest monument to secessionist white supremacists were being revived. ‘If it wasn’t for Brown v. Board of Education, it would never have been finished,’ said Sheffield Hale, president and CEO of the Atlanta History Center. By the time the federal Civil Rights Act was signed in 1964, the state of Georgia had sold $5 million worth of bonds to fund the carving’s completion. Crews led by sculptor Walter Hancock and Roy Faulkner — a local man with no artistic experience but who knew how to use the kerosene-powered torches used to chip away the granite — got to work on the mountain’s face. Far below them, Stone Mountain Park was being born. In addition to a lake and other facilities that were built largely by prison labor, the state created its own sanitized version of an antebellum plantation from scratch. Neat, well-furnished ‘slave cabins’ painted a misleading picture for visitors, according to Grace Elizabeth Hale’s research. Promotional pamphlets assured them that many masters in Georgia were kind and voluntarily freed the people they’d enslaved before ‘The War Between the States’ started. A down-on-her-luck Butterfly McQueen, the Black actress who played the enslaved Prissy in ‘Gone with the Wind,’ was hired to greet visitors at the ‘Big House.’ A historian at the Atlanta History Center would later describe it all as ‘a comical orgy of Lost Cause, Old South, and even Western movie clichés, clearly removed from the more serious and hateful Ku Klux Klan past, but also clearly rooted in it.’ Then there was the carving. By the summer of 1970, the mostly completed rendering of Davis, Lee and Jackson was ready to be dedicated. About 10,000 people — a fraction of the 100,000 forecast by organizers — attended the ceremony. Vice President Spiro Agnew spoke in lieu of President Richard Nixon, who was distracted by recent developments in the War in Vietnam. In his 12-minute speech, Agnew held up the men carved on the mountainside as pillars of American virtue. Later, Georgia’s secretary of state took the stage, donned a gray cap and let out a Rebel yell. The crowd joined in his yell, which the Atlanta Constitution called a ‘long lusty cheer.’ “

The article concludes, “Today, activists who have for years called for a reckoning with Stone Mountain’s Confederate imagery say ideas like better explaining the carving’s history don’t go far enough. Atlanta NAACP president Richard Rose called the current proposals — which also include renaming Confederate Hall and moving Confederate flags that have flown at the base of the mountain’s walk-up trail for decades — a ‘slap in the face.’ The memorial association’s motives, too, are largely financial. Marriott, which runs the park’s primary hotel and conference center, reportedly plans to pull out of the park next year. So does Herschend Family Entertainment, which has run the park’s revenue-generating attractions since they were privatized in 1998. Mention of Coca-Cola as an ‘official sponsor’ was also recently removed from the Stone Mountain Park website. A spokeswoman for Coke said the logo was removed to make it clear that their relationship was with Herschend, not Stone Mountain itself. Still, the fact that changes are even being considered is not an insignificant development. ‘Economically we can’t stay the way we are,’ Stephens, the memorial association CEO, said. ‘Change is inevitable. We can either take charge of it or we can be defined by it.’ “

This article from Columbus, Mississippi, tells us, “The first steps of relocating a confederate monument began this morning. Across the nation, confederate monuments and memorials are being taken down. Here in Columbus, the situation is a little different. ‘We’ve looked around the nation and people are wanting to remove symbols of hatred and discrimination. And so it’s not different here. For a number of people, it just didn’t represent the same value system,’ Lowndes County Supervisor, Leroy Brooks said. However, instead of simply removing it, it’s being relocated. According to one local historian, the decision has been talked about since the monument was erected. ‘In 1921, the UDC was still talking about the courthouse should just be temporary and trying to think what would be the most appropriate place to put it. So, as far as moving it, if it’s moved, this is the most appropriate place,’ Rufus Ward said. Efforts to commemorate the fallen confederate soldiers began in 1912. The original plans were for the monument to go on Main street. However, due to lack of funding and location issues, the monument was placed in front of the courthouse. ‘Originally it was specifically placed there as a memorial for the dead. Not a memorial for the confederacy, but a memorial for the dead. And some questionable wording was put on it when it was placed there which has a lot to do with the current view of it,’ Ward said. 2,100 confederate soldiers are buried in Friendship Cemetery along with 10 Union soldiers. The monument will be placed among the graves as originally planned by the Daughters of the Confederacy. ‘For those who cherish the history, they’ll still have the opportunity. History is what it is,’ Brooks said. The base for the monument’s new location is already set. Research was completed to ensure that the monument will not be over any buried soldiers. County leaders expect the project to be completed in a few weeks.”

Returning to the Old Dominion, we have this article on the A. P. Hill memorial in Richmond. “The statue of Confederate Gen. A.P. Hill appears to be on its way to removal, along with his gravesite over which the statue towers at Laburnum Avenue and Hermitage Road in North Side. Next Tuesday, May 25, the city’s Commission of Architectural Review, or CAR, will take a first look at City Hall’s plans to remove the last city-owned statue of a slavery defender. The cost to take down the statue and disassemble the gravesite is estimated at $34,000, according to the information to be presented to CAR. The plan is to take the statue down and remove the 45 connected stones that form the pedestal base. Also to be removed is the sarcophagus containing Gen. Hill’s remains, which will be done in coordination with the state Department of Historic Resources. The work could take three days, the report to CAR indicates. CAR also is to consider proposals for the removal of the pedestals on Monument Avenue, atop Libbie Hill and in Monroe Park where statues honoring Confederates previously stood. The detailed information includes proposals for landscaping and plantings. The cost of removing the pedestals for the Jefferson Davis, J.E.B. Stuart, Stonewall Jackson and Matthew Fontaine Maury monuments, as well as the pedestal for the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors monument on Libby Hill, are projected at nearly $200,000, according to estimates the North Carolina Department of Transportation provided to the city. The Urban Design Committee, which is a separate arm of the City Planning Commission, will consider the proposals on Thursday, June 10. If there are no postponements, the Planning Commission could consider the plans for removal on Monday, June 21. The only other Confederate statue — that of Gen. Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue — is the largest and owned by the state. The state has been trying to take down the statue for nearly a year. The state Supreme Court has halted its removal because of a pending lawsuit from three nearby property owners contesting the authority of Gov. Ralph S. Northam to remove the statue. A hearing is scheduled for June 8 before the court.”

Finally, we have this article from South Carolina, telling us, “The long-debated question over the constitutionality of a controversial state law that blocks South Carolina cities from taking down Confederate monuments and other war memorials is about to be heard by the state Supreme Court. And there’s a chance the court could opt to avoid that central issue, since top Republican officials have encouraged the justices to toss the dispute on technical grounds. Jennifer Pinckney, the widow of slain state senator and Emanuel AME Church Pastor Clementa Pinckney, filed the lawsuit to be heard May 25 along with Columbia Councilman Howard Duvall and former state Sen. Kay Patterson. The trio contends the Heritage Act — the law passed by the Legislature as a compromise measure when they voted to remove the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse dome in 2000 — violates the state constitution by improperly constraining lawmakers and local governments from removing or modifying monuments and other historical markers. Rather than through a more achievable simple majority, the law requires a two-thirds vote by the General Assembly to take down any monuments or rename any public areas dedicated for historical figures from a list of 10 major wars, including the Civil War, or for Native Americans or African Americans. Critics have long argued the two-thirds requirement unconstitutionally restricted future Legislatures from taking action by simple majority. ‘By allowing a past majority — from twenty years ago — to control future legislatures, neither the people nor their elected representatives can be fully heard,’ the plaintiffs, represented by state Sen. Gerald Malloy, D-Hartsville, and attorney Matthew Richardson, wrote in their brief. Even Republican Attorney General Alan Wilson agreed on that point, writing in a non-binding 2020 opinion that the two-thirds threshold should be struck down. But Wilson said the rest of the law should remain in tact. With so much unsettled division over the law, Wilson encouraged the state Supreme Court to take the case and potentially determine whether the act passes constitutional muster. The lawsuit names Gov. Henry McMaster, House Speaker Jay Lucas and Senate President Harvey Peeler as defendants due to their official roles enforcing the law. The plaintiffs also claim the law violates ‘Home Rule’ by preventing local governments from controlling monuments and markers in their own areas while delegating that authority to the state instead. And they argue the selection of 10 wars and two ethnic heritages violates a prohibition against arbitrary classifications. Lucas and Peeler declined to comment on a pending legal issue, but McMaster’s spokesman Brian Symmes said the governor ‘maintains that the Heritage Act provides a good framework for dealing with questions around historical monuments.’ ‘It preserves monuments while allowing South Carolinians to voice their concerns through their elected representatives,’ Symmes said. ‘That thoughtful, democratic process has proven to be important in the past and needs to be prioritized moving forward,’ he added. Some of the legal arguments put forward by the state officer lawyers could still prevent the court from deciding the main issue in the case. In a 22-page response brief, Lucas’ attorney noted that no attempted legislation to amend or repeal the Heritage Act has ever received a simple majority without also clearing the two-thirds threshold, therefore suggesting there is no pressing legal dispute for the court to address. Nine bills have been introduced to alter something protected by the Heritage Act since it became law. Four of them passed overwhelmingly and the other five never received a vote. Most famously, the state House voted 94-20 and the Senate 37-3 to remove the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse grounds after the 2015 Emanuel AME shooting. Lucas’ attorney called the lawsuit ‘a generalized complaint about a legislative policy decision.’ ‘They do not like the Heritage Act,’ the attorney, Grayson Lambert, wrote of the plaintiffs. ‘But that does not make the Heritage Act unconstitutional. And its constitutionality is the only question before the Court.’ Even if the two-thirds requirement gets struck down, Lambert echoed Wilson in saying the rest of the law should remain. He said the designation of the 10 wars and two ethnic classes is allowed because the law focuses on ‘monuments and memorials to the most impactful wars and ethnicities on the State’s history.’ Arguments over the case will be heard in the S.C. Supreme Court at 10:30 a.m. May 25. Plaintiffs will have 20 minutes to make their case and defendants will have 20 minutes to respond followed by a five-minute rebuttal.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: