Two South Carolina politicians have proposed a commission to erect a monument honoring the legacy of black soldiers who fought for the South during the Civil War. The proposal is authored by a representative who has long been a vocal defender of the Confederate flag and another Republican lawmaker who said that the victims of the Charleston, S.C., church massacre “waited to be shot.” There is only one problem with the plan:
South Carolina didn’t have any black Confederate soldiers.
On Dec. 13, state Reps. Bill Chumley (R-Spartanburg) and Mike Burns (R-Greenville) filed a proposed piece of legislation to recognize African Americans who fought for the Confederate States of America in the bloodiest conflict in the nation’s history. The lawmakers are seeking to form a commission that would eventually build a monument dedicated to black Confederate soldiers, according to The State.
But experts say there is no evidence that black soldiers fought alongside Southern whites in the War Between the States. “In all my years of research, I can say I have seen no documentation of black South Carolina soldiers fighting for the Confederacy,” said historian Walter Edgar, author of South Carolina: A History. Edgar also served for 32 years as director of the University of South Carolina’s Institute for Southern Studies. “In fact, when secession came, the state turned down free [blacks] who wanted to volunteer because they didn’t want armed persons of color,” Edgar added.
The South Carolina Department of Archives and History has no records of black soldiers receiving combat pay during the Confederacy, according to The State. Documents show that blacks served as cooks, buglers and body servants, but not as combat soldiers. Confederate law banned blacks from owning firearms until 1865, the very end of the Civil War, when blacks fought in states like Virginia and Texas but not South Carolina. South Carolina’s laws even prohibited mixed-race citizens from serving in combat duty and showed a complete rejection of any nonwhite armed participation in the Confederacy’s cause.
Chumley and Burns basically responded to those facts with a Caucasian version of, “Yeah, but still ... ”
“We don’t see that’s a problem,” said Chumley, when asked about the lack of evidence. “If they served in the Confederate Army, they deserve to be recognized.” The politicians also filed a companion bill that would form a commission to construct a plan to teach the state’s public school students about African Americans’ participation in the Civil War.
Both lawmakers voted against the removal of the symbol of white supremacy from the Statehouse following Dylann Roof’s 2015 mass murder at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. Burns famously wrote an op-ed dripping with white supremacist tears for USA Today on why removing the Confederate flag was a mistake. And during the debate on the flag removal, Chumley said that the nine victims “waited their turn to be shot.”
I have come up with a solution to the controversy that should make everyone happy. If South Carolina wants to build a monument to people who never existed, just make the monument invisible, too. In fact, I’ve already built it. Maybe you can’t see it, but trust me—just like the black soldiers of the Confederacy—it’s there.
See? Problem solved.
Read more at The State.