The University of South Carolina has officially acknowledged its history with enslaved labor by unveiling a plaque which predominately sits on the Horseshoe. The Horseshoe is a popular attraction to both students, residents in the area and alumni who frequent the area. What may not have been known to prospective students, or visitors to the campus was the history of the buildings that surround the Horseshoe.
The University operates a website which has acknowledged the use of enslaved labor, but after student protests in 2015, it was decided that further action was necessary to address the school’s past.
Upcoming grassroots events including the Repeal the Heritage Act hosted by SC Onward wish to address the issue of statues including Benjamin Tillman, a former governor of South Carolina whose platform was controversial are in question. The Heritage Act which was enacted after the removal of the Confederate Flag from the Statehouse dome protects monuments from removal without a two-thirds majority vote from the General Assembly.
After Dylann Roof, who killed 9 members of an African American Charleston church, the two-thirds requirement was met for the removal of the flag from the statehouse grounds. The issue of further monument removal has been at a standstill.
The University’s efforts are unique in the debate of statues as it bluntly addresses the history of the school in a factual manner. This poses an alternative to the state should repeal of the Heritage Act fail to gain traction. Previously two Republican lawmakers wanted to install a monument on statehouse grounds for African Americans soldiers in the Civil War, however the historical accuracy of enlisted African American soldiers is in dispute.