Target: South Carolina Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler and House Majority Leader Bruce Bannister
Goal: Desegregate war memorial so that all World War I and World War II veterans are honored equally regardless of their skin color.
The names of soldiers who died in battle are divided into “white” and “colored” categories at a memorial for soldiers of both World Wars in South Carolina, and can’t be changed without two-thirds of the state legislature approving it. Such segregation is racist, outdated, and should be considered illegal. Demand that the memorial be integrated.
This memorial is unique for its segregation, as most war memorials do not make a distinction between soldiers of different skin colors. Welborn Adams, the mayor of Greenwood, South Carolina, where the memorial is located, has already tried to change the memorial so that the names of white soldiers and soldiers of color are listed together, but he was forced to halt his efforts when an obscure state law barring any change to historic monuments without a two-thirds vote by the state legislature was brought to his attention. A bill approving the change to the memorial is currently being considered in South Carolina’s Senate and already has the approval of half of its members, but it’s passage is not yet guaranteed.
Just as the “colored” water fountains and bathrooms were replaced after segregation was made illegal, the segregated plaques of this memorial should be replaced. Sign the petition below to demand that the majority leaders of both the State Senate and the State House of Representatives gather the votes necessary to pass the bill allowing the change.
Dear Majority Leaders Peeler and Bannister,
I am writing you today regarding a bill that is currently being considered in the Senate that would allow a war memorial in Greenwood that divides soldiers killed in battle into “white” and “colored” categories to be integrated. This is a necessary change and one that, frankly, should have been done decades ago.
Segregation was supposed to be outlawed in 1964 with the passage of the Civil Rights Act. It seems only right that the weight of that historic act should bear on this memorial as well—segregation is segregation, no matter what. Concerns have been raised that changing the memorial so that the soldiers are integrated would whitewash the military’s history of racial segregation, but that is a weak excuse. Relics of the nation’s horrific past should be kept in museums where it’s clear that they are, ideally, just that—relics—not in the public square where endorsement of their racist motivations is still implied. Indeed, Greenwood Mayor Welborn Adams has already addressed this by planning to place the current segregated plaques in the county museum after the change is made.
These people died fighting for their country. Honoring them and their sacrifice should not be contingent on the color of their skin. I demand that you gather the votes necessary to pass the bill to change the Greenwood memorial in both the Senate and the House.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Liftarn via Wikimedia Commons