Two Republicans in South Carolina want to honor African-Americans who fought on the side of the Confederacy during the Civil War – black Confederate soldiers.
State Reps. Bill Chumley and Mike Burns co-sponsored the bill, which proposes not only a monument for the soldiers but also an education initiative. The two Republicans want schools to teach more about the Civil War and the historical significance of these soldiers.
“We came to the realization there was a lot we didn’t know about the war and their sacrifices,” Chumley told the Spartanburg Herald Journal. “These people were heroes and forgotten heroes.”
People on “both sides”
The bill also focused on a sort of “both sides” approach to education.
“While there is representation of those African-Americans from South Carolina who took up arms for the Union, there is nothing to show the contributions, sacrifices and honor of their Confederate counterparts,” the bill says.
It’s an argument we’ve heard before, that there were good people on both sides.
“I think (the black Confederate monument) will be a real plus for South Carolina,” Chumley said. “That period of history needs to be taught.”
South Carolina’s confederate flag problem
The two Republican co-sponsors were among those who opposed removing the Confederate flag from the state house. However, their voices were drowned out after Dylann Roof killed nine churchgoers at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church in 2015.
The Confederate flag was removed from the statehouse following the shooting and sent to a museum. You’d think that would count as preserving history, since it’s on display.
But critics of this new bill believe that this is just a way to try to bring that flag back to the statehouse.
However, Chumley and Burns insisted that the bill was not about the flag but about Civil War history.
At a time when most of the country is removing Confederate monuments, though, this feels like a step backwards.