As many of you probably already know, in the weeks since the police murder of George Floyd—and Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade, and Rayshard Brooks—there’s been a renewed call for the removal of monuments that celebrate white supremacy. It’s been absolutely fantastic seeing statues that laud those who both engaged in and represent white terror come down in sites all around this country. The list seems to grow daily, and here’s hoping it continues to expand.
Among the statues taken down or slated for removal that overlap with our 10 Most Unwanted is the Spirit of Confederacy in Houston, Texas; the Tribute to the Women of the Southern Confederacy in Jacksonville, Florida; and the Confederate War Memorial in Dallas, Texas. There are so many activists who worked tirelessly for years to make this happen. Thank you for pushing and for making this happen.
That brings me to the towering figure of John C. Calhoun that has stood in Charleston’s Marion Square since 1887—a monument to white Charlestonians’ hostility to Black civil rights gains. On Wednesday, Mayor John Tecklenburg announced plans to remove the statue. Finally, Charleston will be taking down a tribute to a figure who never deserved to be honored in the first place.
This comes after so much hard work by so many folks in Charleston demanded it. Many of those same folks were kind enough to support our campaign to have Calhoun removed—an effort that began long after the work they’d already put in. I’m so incredibly grateful that they were willing to welcome and work with us—they are an incredible group of folks, and we were so lucky to learn from them.
Thanks to so many Charleston folks: Millicent Brown, Rev. Joseph Darby, Tamika Gadsden, Benjamin Starr, Marjory Wentworth, Elliott Smith, McKenzie Eddy, Cara Leespon, Marcus Amaker, Samira Miché aka DJ Sista Misses, Jeremy Rutledge, Todd Anderson, Bryan Watson Granger, Mark Sloan, Erin Leigh and everyone at Dance Matters, Fletcher Williams III, Nakeisha Daniel, Javaron Conyers, Robert Tokanel, Rev. Charles Heyward, Terry Fox, Buff Ross, Nick Rubin, Bennet J., Hannah Ross, Dot Scott, Susan Dunn, Chan Lebeau, Gracie Cox, Damon L. Fordham, Darron Lee Calhoun, Barry Stiefel, Kelly Rae Smith, Bernard E. Powers, Mari Crabtree and so many other folks.
The Make It Right Project is currently in a state of transition, which is why you’ve heard so little from us lately. We’re recalibrating things on our end, but looking forward to upcoming changes. Stand by.
In the meantime, I wrote a piece about the Calhoun statue and how long Black folks have been fighting to have it removed. You can check it out here.
Director of the Make It Right Project