Five years ago today, a white neo-Confederate shot dead nine black parishioners at Mother Emanuel Baptist Church, located just up the street from where a statue honoring John C. Calhoun—who in an 1837 speech famously deemed the enslavement of black human beings “instead of an evil, a good—a positive good”—has stood for more than 130 years in the heart of Charleston, South Carolina.
On Wednesday afternoon, Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg announced his plan to send a resolution to the City Council to remove the monument—a move long overdue. In the same speech cited above, Calhoun stated, “never before has the black race of Central Africa, from the dawn of history to the present day, attained a condition so civilized and so improved, not only physically, but morally and intellectually.” In other words, Calhoun believed the brutality and horror of slavery was the best thing that ever happened to black folks in this country.
And in 1887, white Charlestonians let black folks know how much they agreed with Calhoun by putting up a statue in his image. Even the statue’s location at the Old Citadel, once an arsenal and a guardhouse to literally shoot down any uprising of enslaved black folks, is imbued with white supremacist terror and violence.