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Orangeburg City Council votes to remove Confederate monument, John C. Calhoun Drive name

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Orangeburg City Council unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday to remove the 127-year-old Confederate statue located in Memorial Plaza.

The resolution says, “The City of Orangeburg recognizes that the legacy of slavery, institutional segregation and ongoing systemic racism directly deepens racial division, and the City of Orangeburg is committed to the elimination of racial division and the promotion of racial equity and justice and desires to express this commitment through this resolution.”

The resolution notes that the statue will be immediately removed once the city is authorized by the South Carolina General Assembly.

The Heritage Act of 2000 requires a two-thirds vote by the General Assembly to change or remove any local or state monument, marker, school or street erected or named in honor of the Confederacy or the Civil Rights Movement.

State legislators previously told The T&D that the General Assembly will discuss repealing the Heritage Act in January 2021. Repealing the law would allow decisions on the changing or removal of structures to be made on the local level.

Councilman Richard Stroman said that citizens have contacted him regarding the location of the statue once it is removed. He said people have asked for it to be moved to the Orangeburg County Historical Society on Bull Street at the city’s expense.

The 33-foot granite statue, which was designed by Theo Markwalter of Augusta, Georgia, is topped with a bronze replica of Capt. John D. Palmer of the Hampton Legion. The statue was erected in 1893.

Council also unanimously passed a resolution to rename John C. Calhoun Drive. Calhoun, who served as a state senator and vice president of the United States, was a supporter of slavery.

City Attorney James Walsh stated that renaming the road would also fall under the Heritage Act.

A committee of no more than 10 individuals will be formed with the task of submitting three names to the council for the purpose of naming the road, Walsh said.

Stroman stated that he would like for the city to offer support to business owners along John C. Calhoun Drive.

“Renaming John C. Calhoun Drive, it’s going to cost the people that operate businesses there a lot of money to change the name of the address of their business. If that happens I think we should give some kind of support to that. I would just like to say I don’t think it should be a person’s name,” Stroman said.

“The public maybe should vote on that. The public should have some input on it,” Stroman said.

John C. Calhoun Drive is a 1.3-mile portion of U.S. Highway 301 which begins at the intersection of Magnolia Street and Old Edisto Drive and ends at the intersection of Five Chop Road.

According to the T&D archives, John C. Calhoun Drive was opened for business in 1954.

People were able to submit public comments to city officials on the changes. Many of the comments were against the removal of the monument, while some writers stated they are in favor of the removal.

One citizen against the removal wrote, “I do not want to see the statue removed. It’s part of our history for the people in Orangeburg County. Both white and black fought for the Confederacy in the Orangeburg District.”

The writer said, “let’s show the rest of the world that the home of one of the first African American University’s is willing to honor everyone’s heritage and not just a few.”

A citizen in favor of the removal also suggested streets be renamed as well.

“I am in support of the resolution to remove the Confederate Monument located in the downtown square of Orangeburg, SC. Moreover, please amend the resolution to include the removal of the street names John C. Calhoun Dr., Stonewall Jackson Blvd., Russell St., as well as the removal of any other landmarks/tenants deem inflammatory or derogatory towards people of color,” the comment said.

Contact the writer: bharris@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-596-6530

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Staff Writer

Bradley Harris is a Government and Sports Reporter. The Irmo, SC native is a 2018 graduate of Claflin University and recipient of the 2018 South Carolina Press Association Collegiate Journalist of the Year Award.

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