ORANGEBURG, S.C. (NBC Newschannel) – City Councilmembers in the City of Orangeburg unanimously voted to remove the statue of a Confederate soldier on Tuesday.
The 30-foot tall statue located in Courthouse Square was built in 1893 to honor Orangeburg Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War.
Members of the Orangeburg Revitalization Coalition say they’ve been asking the City Council to remove the statue for a while now and some residents say the statue belongs in a museum not the center of downtown.
Those opposed to the statue’s removal say it represents heritage, not hate.
Council members also unanimously voted to rename John C. Calhoun Drive, which runs through a portion of downtown.
“I feel a sense of oppression and hate and really hurt that it’s even still visible,” said Natalie Able, Executive Director, Orangeburg Revitalization Coalition
“Take it to your house, take your heritage to your museum but not where my children have to go to school and look up at a symbol of hate and a symbol of oppression, people that oppressed my people for 400 years,” said Harvey Elwood.
“It is not racism it’s for everybody who fought in that war. Black, white, child, woman, that gave their lives for a good cause, a cause that they fought for,” said Jeanette Jeffrey.
“History should be left alone,” remarked Diane Hanley. “It’s in the past they’re going to gain nothing. It shouldn’t be brought up that way.”
“John C Calhoun said slavery today, slavery tomorrow slavery forever. That’s not my ancestors and that’s not my history,” said Elwood.
“It is prevalent right now at this time for us to do what needs to be done for us to bring unification in this county, in this city, so we can be all what God wants us to be as a people,” said Bishop Hayes Gainey.
Both resolutions will now go before the state legislature as the Heritage Act requires a two-thirds vote for removing memorials of historic figures or events from public property.