The State Capitol building in Columbia, S.C., set amidst a well maintained park, is beautiful outside and inside and is certainly a building that all South Carolinians can be proud of if not all Americans. However, the statues and monuments surrounding the building give a discordant message, at least to the outsider/visitor.
A outsized statue of former Sen. Strom Thurmond, an infamous segregationist, stands astride a large pedestal on one side of the building. A more human scale statue of George Washington stands on another side.
There's a monument to Confederate Gen. Hudson proudly seated upon his horse. Inside the building, prominently displayed on a wall, is a marble plaque with South Carolina's declaration of secession from the Union. Also a monument to those soldiers who died during the Civil War.
Amidst all of these monuments to the past is a more recent $1 million installation (2001) honoring the history and achievements of African-Americans, including their emergence and liberation from slavery. Wow! After heavy doses of the Confederate past and present, what an odd but remarkable surprise.
Finally, there is the Confederate battle flag, which used to sit atop the dome with the U.S. flag and the Palmetto State flag. The Confederate flag got a demotion, so to speak, in 2000 and was grounded and reduced in size to fly on a flagpole with no way to take it to half mast.
Can anyone imagine, however, the Confederate flag being half-masted in honor of nine dead African-Americans murdered in cold blood by a racist adherent to re-enslaving if not annihilating African-Americans?
I hope the S.C. Confederate battle flag gets a further demotion and is relegated to a museum of discarded ideas. Similarly, remove Strom Thurmond from his pedestal. Taller than George Washington? What an insult.