It has almost been three years since the horrific Emmanuel AME Church shooting where Dylann Roof murdered nine parishioners during bible study. Roof was a proud white supremacist and Confederate sympathizer who was seen in photos waving the Confederate flag.
The shooting sparked an activist movement demanding that Confederate symbols be stricken from the South so that the region could repent of its sins of slavery and racial oppression. South Carolina in 2015 removed the Confederate flag from statehouse grounds as a result.
Now, Republican State Rep. Bill Chumley and Rep. Mike Burns have co-sponsored a bill that will pay tribute to the sacrifices of the black Confederate soldiers involved in the Civil War. Specifically, the bill would establish a commission that will design an African American Confederate veterans monument that will honor the contributions of black 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.”
As many monuments to the Confederacy have fallen since Roof's attack, this new piece of legislation seems out of place. According to the Herald-Journal, both men voted in 2015 against removing the Confederate flag from Statehouse grounds.
“I think (the African-American monument) will be a real plus for South Carolina,” he said. “That period of history needs to be taught”
If enacted, the new bill would also reintroduce students to the important roles black Confederate soldiers played in the war effort. In the 1920s, many surviving soldiers drew pensions but their contributions for the losing side were not taught in public schools in the state.
“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 stated.
Critics have pointed out that this bill and the monument — no matter how well-intentioned it may be — could be used as a political ploy to have the Confederate flag return to the statehouse grounds.