Last week, the Make It Right (MIR) Project continued its ongoing campaign to call out the racist Charleston monument to staunch pro-slavery advocate John C. Calhoun.
The South Carolina-focused initiative launched in April. On May 16, we held the second event in the Standing/Still performance series, which uses arts activism to call for the removal of the Calhoun marker and all symbols of white supremacy. Featured performers—all local Charleston artists—included musician and activist Benjamin Starr; actor and singer Nakeisha Daniel; historian Damon Fordham; and performer Javaron Conyers. The series is the result of a collaborative effort with Redux Contemporary Art Center.
In tandem with that work, MIR Director Kali Holloway wrote a powerful piece about South Carolina’s 2000 Heritage Law. In the article, which appeared in the Charleston City Paper, Holloway notes, “With the passage of that law, neo-Confederate state legislators successfully disenfranchised South Carolinians who oppose Confederate statuary, stripping entire communities of the political power to demand its removal. How fitting, in a kind of perfectly grim symmetry, that the same legislation that protects South Carolina’s Confederate monuments also disempowers the majority of its black citizens—just like the Jim Crow laws those markers celebrate.” To check out the piece in its entirety, visit the City Paper website.
The paper also ran its own coverage of MIR’s event and arts-focused partnership, noting our belief that “real change can come through arts activism because it provides a less didactic platform for people to express and consider potentially divisive issues.” Other local outlets covered the event and the initiative, including CBS television news affiliate Live 5 WCSC; ABC affiliate News 4; NBC affiliate News 2; and the right-leaning FITSNews.
Additionally, Rev. Joseph Darby—pastor of Morris Brown AME Church, vice president of the Charleston Branch of the NAACP, and an indispensable partner to MIR’s work in Charleston—wrote a timely Post and Courier piece that helped further bolster our efforts. Headlined “Calhoun Statue Should Not Stand in Prominent Public Space,” the piece notes that Calhoun was “a slaveholder who used his public offices to champion the right of the individual states to allow people to ‘own’ kidnapped Africans and their descendants, and who articulated his belief that my ancestors were an inferior species that somehow ‘benefited’ from being raped, beaten, castrated, maimed, tortured and lynched.”
You can read the piece in its entirety on the Post and Courier website.