Charleston’s Commission on History to discuss temporary home for former Calhoun statue

Local News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Future of the John C. Calhoun statue, which once cast a shadow as it towered over Marion Square in downtown Charleston, will be up for discussion again Wednesday.

The City of Charleston’s Commission on History will take up a request for the statue to be placed in a temporary home.

The statue has been in storage since it was removed from its pedestal in June 2020, with an understanding that it would be placed securely in a museum or educational center.

But several educational institutions and museums have refused placement.

A letter addressed to Mayor John Tecklenburg in June 2021, which comes from the director of a Los Angeles visual-arts center, said it believes the statue would make “an excellent addition” to a new exhibit in the space.

The center uses contemporary arts to present an understanding of key issues, and notes the actions of recent white supremacists, like Dylann Roof, who shot and killed nine people at a historic church in Charleston, and James Alex Fields, Jr.’s actions in Charlottesville in 2017.

It also mentioned Bree Newsome, who climbed to the top of a flag pole to remove the Confederate Flag from the Statehouse grounds, and the dozens of Confederate monuments that have been removed from cities in recent years.

All of which they said has led to the conception of ‘MONUMENTS,’ an exhibition that is slated for opening in Fall 2020 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown Los Angeles.

Organizers believe the Calhoun statue would make “an excellent addition to this exhibition,” according to their letter to Mayor Tecklenberg.

In the letter, the director wrote, “Though he is not a Confederate figure, Calhoun played a pivotal role in the expansion and protection of slavery in the United States and supported South Carolina’s secession in his final public speech.

The historical record surrounding the creation of both this monument and the original version reflects the contentious nature of these types of monuments from their inception … the recent protest and subsequent actions taken by the Charleston City Council are an interesting case study into the ways in which communities grapple with questions of heritage and representation and how municipalities can rapidly respond to current events and the desires of their constituents.”

The center would contract with a company that specializes in rigging, transportation, installation, and de-installation if granted approval for the project.

It’s unclear if the commission will discuss this letter as a possible home – or temporary home – for the statue, or if any other proposals have been received.

The commission is expected to meet Wednesday afternoon.

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