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Confederate statute going up honoring Black soldiers?

South Carolina

Carol Ozemhoya | OW Contributor | 1/5/2018, 2 a.m.
In a move that’s already raising eyebrows, South Carolina legislators announced...

In a move that’s already raising eyebrows, South Carolina legislators announced a plan to erect a statue honoring African American soldiers who fought for the Confederacy, reports the BBC. This is underway while across the country, particularly in the Deep South, Confederate statues are being taken down. However, at least one historian says that no Black soldiers were in the Confederacy, at least not voluntary. Republican state representatives Bill Chumley and Mike Burns have proposed a bill to build the statue. Burns claims such a “monument can help educate current and future generations of a little-known but important part” of state history. “These African-Americans, like many of their Caucasian contemporaries, stepped up to defend their home state during a tumultuous time in our country's history. Their service has largely been overlooked or forgotten.” Chumley said the plan was intended to honor any African American who served in the Confederacy, whether or not they picked up a gun to fight. “We are all learning a lot. The purpose of the bill is education,” he said. But University of South Carolina history professor emeritus Walter Edgar said that no Black people fought for the pro-slavery South. “I have seen no documentation of Black South Carolina soldiers fighting for the Confederacy,” he said. Professor Edgar, who wrote “South Carolina: A History,” said the state had even turned down free Blacks who wanted to volunteer to fight during the Civil War because they didn't want to arm African Americans. No Black people served as soldiers and the only African Americans in the Confederate army from South Carolina were either slaves or free Blacks forced to work as servants or in the kitchen, according to the academic. There is debate among historians over this issue. John Stauffer, a professor of African-American studies at Harvard University, says there were Confederate Black soldiers. He has estimated that between 3,000 and 6,000 African Americans served in the rebel ranks, possibly because they were promised freedom by plantation owners. Professor Stauffer has calculated that another 100,000 or so Black people supported the Confederacy as laborers and servants, building fortifications and batteries.