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.
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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.