Authorities debate Calhoun statue to be part of exhibit

CHARLESTON, SC (AP) – A Los Angeles visual arts space wants to display a South Carolina statue of former vice president and slavery advocate John C. Calhoun as part of an exhibit by art, but members of a city panel raised concerns about the nature policy of such a display.

The Charleston History Commission voted Wednesday to delay making a recommendation on the proposal to Charleston City Council until more information can be provided, WCSC-TV reported.

The nonprofit LAXART wants to present the Calhoun monument during an exhibition scheduled for 2022 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown Los Angeles. In addition to focusing on Confederate imagery, the exhibit would “encompass the prospect of reparations, healing, and greater consideration of America’s past,” wrote LAXART director Hamza Walker, in a letter to the Mayor of Charleston.

But commissioner David McCormack had qualms about the proposal, saying, “It looks like this exhibition will be a highly political and highly ideological event that will likely continue to propagate an unqualified view of John C. Calhoun.”

“As a commission, we have a responsibility to both the City of Charleston and the State of South Carolina not to allow the Calhoun statue to become a pawn in the hands of individuals and organizations on which we know little about and have no control over, ”added McCormack.

The city has owned the Calhoun monument since 1885, when the Ladies Calhoun Memorial Association handed over the deed.

The statue was removed from Marion Square in Charleston in June 2020 after the community objected to what the monument represented following the murder of George Floyd. The pullout came five years after nine black parishioners were murdered in a racist attack on a church in downtown Charleston.

In his letter to city officials, Walker said the exhibit would feature a group of “recently disused Civil War monuments from across the United States” and said these statues are “physical manifestations of the belief of the lost cause “.

Walker said that although Calhoun died before the Civil War, the statue would be a valuable addition to the planned exhibition because Calhoun had “a central role in the expansion and protection of slavery in the United States” and has argued for the secession of South Carolina. of the Union.

Calhoun was President James Monroe’s Secretary of War. He was also vice chairman of John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson.

Calhoun’s support for slavery never wavered. He said in several speeches to the US Senate in the 1830s that slaves in the South were better off than free black people in the North while calling slavery a “positive good.”

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