Flickr user mr_t_in_dc
"To the Confederate Defenders of Charleston" in White Point Gardens depicts a warrior with the state seal on its shield
Street names and monuments honoring those who waged war to keep African-Americans enslaved
are still standing across Charleston, despite calls to either alter or remove them following the racially-motivated Mother Emanuel killings.
The Southern Poverty Law Center counts 1,728 public symbols (school names, roads, monuments, other sites) honoring the failed Confederacy across the country, according to a report
released Monday. A spike in the establishment of these markers began at the turn of the 20th century and lasted until World War I.
In Charleston, nine James Island streets are named after popular Confederates and three peninsula monuments are dedicated to the "Lost Cause:" the Confederate Defenders of Charleston monument at White Point Garden, the Washington Light Infantry monument in Washington Square, and the Gen. Wade Hampton monument in Marion Square.
South Carolina has 194 Confederate monuments in total.
The racially-motivated murder of nine parishioners in downtown Charleston triggered a slight reckoning with honorific memorials, including the contentious John C. Calhoun statue at Marion Square, which honors the slavery proponent and vice president who died almost 11 years before a Confederate government was established.
"Under intense pressure, South Carolina officials acted first, passing legislation to remove the Confederate flag from the State House grounds, where it had flown since 1961," the report says.
However, six states — including South Carolina — have laws in the books protecting these monuments from being removed. North Carolina passed theirs a month after the Charleston shooting. Here, the Heritage Act of 2000 requires a super-majority from both houses of the state legislature before any changes can be made.
The SPLC estimates that close to 110 Confederate symbols (including 47 monuments) have been removed since June 2015.
Speaking after the successful removal of three Confederate monuments in New Orleans last year, former mayor Mitch Landrieu said:
These statues are not just stone and metal. They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror that it actually stood for.
Charleston City Council deferred placing a plaque with further context outside of the Calhoun monument in January, after months of failing to reach an agreement during meetings that were packed with the monument's defenders.