Ben Tillman statue under fire (South Carolina)
A resolution to remove the statue of Ben Tillman from State House grounds is expected to be formally introduced today in the House of Representatives.
“I just don’t think his statue should be on State House grounds,” said Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Richland, noting Tillman for years made speeches about killing African-Americans who sought their rights.
Some lawmakers don’t expect the resolution to pass but prefer adding a plaque that would explain Tillman’s history accurately.
“A plaque would stand a better chance of passage because it simply tells the truth,” said Rep. Joe Neal, D-Richland. “History is what it is, and there’s an argument that you can’t change it (by removing a statue). But what you can do is tell the truth.”
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John R. Maass - 1/22/2008
When I went to the U of SC to check out their graduate school in 2002 (for history) I had some spare time and walked to the nearby state capitol bldg. to see for myself the Rebel Flag that had made so much news. What an ironic surprise I got to see the Tillman statue, esp. having just read Stephen Kantrowitz's superb book, Ben Tillman and the Reconstruction of White Supremacy (The University of North Carolina Press, 2000) I suppose that both the NAACP and the press had no real idea who he was and what he stood for, but I saw him and his statue as a far greater symbol of the racist southern past as the rebel flag.