Upstate history professor weighs in on role of African Americans - FOX Carolina 21

Upstate history professor weighs in on role of African Americans in Confederacy as lawmaker says bill for monument gains support

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African Americans who served in the Civil War (FOX Carolina/ October 11, 2017) African Americans who served in the Civil War (FOX Carolina/ October 11, 2017)
African Americans who served in the Civil War (FOX Carolina/ October 11, 2017) African Americans who served in the Civil War (FOX Carolina/ October 11, 2017)
GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Representative Bill Chumley said two Upstate lawmakers are supporting his and Representative Mike Burns push to erect a monument on the South Carolina State House Lawn in honor of African American soldiers in the Confederacy. 

One of those is Representative Josiah Magnuson who told FOX Carolina over the phone, he supports the measure and might consider co-sponsoring the bill once he reads it in full. 

"I believe that our history brings us together when it's presented properly. I believe that our heritage of defending our state can tell us where we need to go in the future," said Magnuson.

FOX Carolina first told you about this proposal back in early October

When FOX Carolina paid a visit to the Confederate Museum in Greenville, our reporter found pictures of African Americans on the wall who played a role in the Confederacy.

We asked Furman History Professor Dr. Stephen O'Neill to weigh in. 

"When you talk about serving the confederacy I think it's important to make a distinction between those who shouldered arms which is almost nobody, because it was illegal and those maybe around the battle sites who were acting as laborers or teamsters, or serving as assistants or servants," said Dr. O'Neill.

In our initial story on the bill, Representative Burns spoke with FOX Carolina saying there were "320 Confederate black soldiers who applied for a South Carolina State Confederate Pension".

Dr. O'Neill said most of those did not engage in battle.

"All of those pension requests except for one of them, claim service in some other way besides being a soldier," said O'Neill. 

Burns told FOX Carolina in his initial interview that the proposal is meant to be a healing one during a time when many are clashing over monuments nationwide.

"It could be a good thing for our state and be a model for other states who are suffering through these same issues," said Burns.

O'Neill said he fears though that a statue like the one being talked about ignores a big piece of the Civil War's history. 

"To propose… and to put up this monument is a way of saying that African Americans were satisfied enough with the institution of slavery and with the system that the confederacy was protecting to fight for that or to fight for some notion that this was their homeland, and I think that is kind of a dangerous myth that’s being proported by this effort," said O'Neill.

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