The mayor of North Augusta, South Carolina, claimed a monument dedicated to white supremacy would ultimately unite residents of the city.  

An obelisk standing in Calhoun Park honoring the only white man killed in an 1876 race riot could be used to discuss racial issues in the city. North Augusta Mayor Bob Pettit announced plans to add a plaque to recognize the seven Black men killed in the riot earlier this month. 

"It's an opportunity to look at something divisive for the community and hopefully make it a positive for the community," Pettit told CNN.

The obelisk, erected in 1916, remembers the horrific Hamburg Massacre where armed white men attempted to take over a predominantly Black area. Only 40 Black men stood against an army of 200–300 armed white men. Instead of commemorating the massacre as a whole, just the white casualty, Thomas McKie Meriwether, was remembered. 

The words etched into the stone monument clearly show the statue's ties to white supremacy and racial terror.

Meriwether "exemplified the highest ideal of Anglo-Saxon civilization. By his death, he assured to the children of his beloved land the supremacy of that ideal," the obelisk read. 

According to WRDW, Meriwether was 24 years old when he was shot in the standoff. Historical reports state the Black victims were murdered in cold blood and not in the actual fighting. 

Critics have called for the removal of the statue altogether, but state law may prevent that from ever happening.

The Meriwether obelisk is protected by the Heritage Act, which states war monuments cannot be moved or modified without state approval. Pettit's recommendation may be the only solution at the time. 

"I've had nobody dispute it to me," he said. "And we just need to take positive action to remedy that situation, in my opinion."

In the meantime, there will be an open design competition where the winner will get the chance to add a diverse narrative to the monument.

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