The NAACP wants statues of slave owners in Charleston to come down.
“The Charleston branch of the NAACP supports and joins the National Action Network’s call for the removal of slave-holding, states’ rights champion John C. Calhoun’s statue from Charleston’s Marion Square,” the NAACP Charleston branch President Dot Scott said in a press conference on Tuesday.
The statue embodies former South Carolina Senator and Vice President that defended states’ rights to own slaves. He died twelve years before the civil war.
The calls for the removal of the statue come in response to the civil unrest that occurred over the weekend in Charlottesville, VA, where white supremacists rallied. Civil rights activists held counter protests across the country. In Durham, NC, anti-racist protesters toppled a statue of Confederate soldier outside of the courthouse.
The Charleston NAACP branch hopes that the city and state legislature can work together to remove statues that they say idolize slavery. Instead the NAACP would prefer the monuments come down in a peaceful lawful manner than after a tragedy like in how the state took down the Confederate flag at the Statehouse in the aftermath of the shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church.
As a start Scott and the NAACP asked the Legislative Black Caucus and the rest of South Carolina’s legislators to repeal the Heritage Act so local municipalities have control over the monuments in their community.
Repealing the Heritage Act, “would allow our state’s cites, towns and communities to decide what monuments and flags should stay and what monuments and flags should be removed,” Scott said.
The Heritage Act passed in 2000 says municipalities cannot remove or alter statues with the consent of a supermajority in the General Assembly
Scott asks for understanding from people who enjoy the history of the Confederacy to see that white supremacists have co-opted their symbols for hatred and bigotry.
“But the time has come for them to admit and accept that their heritage has been amplified, embraced and co-opted by those who promote hatred and white supremacy,” Scott said.
The statue of Calhoun is owned by the city but Marion Square is owned by the Washington Light Infantry and the Sumter guard’s board, which brings into question the city’s flexibility in being able to remove the statue independently.