With support from the University of Richmond

History News Network

History News Network puts current events into historical perspective. Subscribe to our newsletter for new perspectives on the ways history continues to resonate in the present. Explore our archive of thousands of original op-eds and curated stories from around the web. Join us to learn more about the past, now.

Why one Historian Changed his Mind about the Calhoun Monument

The tide of history has finally caught up with John C. Calhoun.

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg and City Council are to be commended for their announcement that they will vote Tuesday to remove this shrine to white supremacy, an ideology that, sadly, is part of America’s DNA.

Unfortunately, it took the unjustified killings of George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks by the police to reignite the debate on the role of racism in American history.

Three years ago, in a series of opinion pieces in this newspaper, I argued that the John C. Calhoun monument should not be removed. As a historian, I saw it as an essential educational opportunity.

But to be a viable source of learning, it needed more context. A city commission proposed a plaque full of words. Rightfully, it was rejected as inadequate. In a Dec. 14, 2017, op-ed, I suggested the alternative of placing a new monument dedicated to the victims of white supremacy adjacent to the Calhoun monument to complement Marion Square’s nearby Holocaust Memorial, which is dedicated to the victims of another racist ideology.

However, much has changed since then. The continued killing of unarmed black men and women by police and others, the growing inequalities among whites and nonwhites and the raucous return of white supremacists have led to the right decision to remove and relocate the Calhoun statue.

Read entire article at Charleston Post and Courier (SC)