The debate surrounding Confederate States of America monuments has been heated, and has even evolved into legislation, with two new bills being put forward that would to remove all CSA monuments from the U.S. Capitol.
Now, in South Carolina, two state lawmakers are putting forth a bill that does something a little different. The bill doesn't remove any Confederate monuments: it would add a new one.
According to the Post And Courier, Republican Representatives Bill Chumley and Mike Burns announced early this week that they'll be filing a bill to add a monument honoring African American soldiers who fought for the Confederate States of America to South Carolina's Statehouse grounds.
"This history is the truth and is being white-washed," said Burns. "Some of our history is good and some of our history is not so good. But they deserve to be honored for what they did on behalf of South Carolina."
According to BlackConfederateSoldiers.com, a site created by supporters of the Chumley-Burns monument, there are roughly 350 African-American soldiers listed in state and federal records who served in Confederate units or who filed for post-war pension applications.
As several historians have pointed out, most black soldiers fighting for the Confederacy were slaves forced to do so. In fact, there is already a monument in South Carolina that honors and praises "faithful slaves" who helped the CSA war effort. Its inscription reads: "Dedicated to the faithful slaves who, loyal to a sacred trust, toiled for the support of the army with matchless devotion and sterling fidelity."
"The stories about slaves in the war have been distorted to make them out to be soldiers," said one such historian Kevin Levin, author of the book Searching For Black Confederates. "The myth of the lost cause allows white Southerners to reconfigure what war is about — that it's not about slavery."
Burns believes that although Levin literally wrote the book on this topic, that he doesn't have his facts straight.
"There were freed men who actually chose to fight because they thought the South was being oppressed," Burns said. "It's a shame our third- and fifth-graders don't get to hear this side of the argument."
Walter Curry, a board member of the South Carolina African American Chamber of Commerce, is the great-great-great-grandson of Lavinia Corley-Thompson, the only known black female African-American vet, per Aiken Standard. Curry also happens to be for the black CSA soldier monument.
"African American soldiers fought courageously on both sides in the Civil War," Curry said. "It is imperative that we as state give due honor to our South Carolina African-American Confederate Veterans. They are the forgotten ones."