A pair of state lawmakers in South Carolina are pushing for war statues and memorials, especially ones that honor Black Confederate soldiers in the state, despite the fact historians have said there are none to be found.
The two Black lawmakers who are spearheading the drive are Reps. Bill Chumley and Mike Burns, both members of Donald J. Trump’s Republican Party. The lawmakers have already introduced a bill that would form a commission to create memorials to Black Confederate troops.
“This monument can help educate current and future generations of a little-known -but important part of South Carolina history,” said Burns.
“These African-Americans, like many of their Caucasian contemporaries, stepped up to defend their home state during a tumultuous time in our history. Their service has largely been overlooked or forgotten,” he added.
But Walter Edgar, considered to be the premier historian on all things South Carolina, said there’s no evidence there were ever any Black soldiers that fought under the Confederate banner.
“In all my years of research, I can say I have seen no documentation of Black South Carolina soldiers fighting for the Confederacy,” said Edgar. “In fact, when secession came, the state turned down free Blacks who wanted to volunteer because they didn’t want armed persons of color,” he added.
There were Blacks in the Confederate army, but they were either slaves of free blacks forced to work without pay as cooks or servants, according to Edgar, a professor emeritus at the University of South Carolina and author.
The current drive by many communities across the South to remove Confederate iconography from public property flared up after the 2015 rampage killings of nine Black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina by a self-described white supremacist. After those killings South Carolina lawmakers voted to remove the Confederate flag from the state capitol grounds.
The movement intensified last year after white supremacists and neo-Nazis rallied in Chalottesville, Virginia, causing violent protest moves by the city to move symbols of its Confederate past, including a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
By J. Zamgba Browne