Here is a shout-out to former CL news editor Will Moredock. These days the South Carolina native, now living in Charleston, is combining his love for history and justice into a new crusade that S.C. has needed for some time. Moredock has launched a social media and email campaign to have the large statue of former S.C. governor and U.S. senator "Pitchfork" Ben Tillman removed from the statehouse in Columbia. On Tuesday, a full-page ad in The State newspaper (shown below), purchased by Moredock, initiated the Down With Tillman campaign, along with media interviews in S.C.
Tillman has long been the subject of great controversy. A prototype of the classic Southern racist demagogue, he led a group of post-Civil War vigilantes that killed more than a hundred blacks who had the audacity to hold political meetings. After being elected governor in 1890, he announced that he would personally lead a lynch mob if it was going to kill "a negro that ravishes a white woman," and stated that he would rather his daughters be killed by a wild animal than to know that "she had been robbed of the jewel of her womanhood by a black fiend." The murder of black men was an ongoing theme of Tillman's political career, including his years in the U.S. Senate from 1895 to 1918, during which he was censured for physically attacking a fellow senator on the floor of the Senate. Here are more choice quotes from Tillman's statue-inspiring career (Be warned: They're not for the faint of heart):
"We have done our level best [to prevent blacks from voting]...we have scratched our heads to find out how we could eliminate the last one of them. We stuffed ballot boxes. We shot them. We are not ashamed of it."
In 1906, when Pres. Teddy Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington to the White House for dinner, Tillman said, "The action of President Roosevelt in entertaining that nigger will necessitate our killing a thousand niggers in the South before they learn their place again."
Unless the South was left alone by the federal government to deal with blacks as it saw fit, Tillman said, "[White Southerners] will have no conception of the word 'nation' except that it is connected with the word 'nigger.'"
After the Civil War, said Tillman, "The poor African became a fiend, a wild beast, seeking whom he may devour, filling our penitentiaries and our jails, lurking around to see if some helpless white woman can be murdered or brutalized. We realize what it means to allow even a trickle of racial equality to break through the dam."
A big problem in my native state of South Carolina is that too many supposedly educated white people there who proclaim their love of the state's history while understanding very little about it, and remaining unwilling to admit the horrendous errors in matters of race that practically define the place. If you're interested in history, justice, or just this particular effort by Will Moredock, check out the website linked above, or the campaign's Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/downwithtillman.