Tags: south carolina | lawsuit | war | memorial | race

Suit Filed Over South Carolina War Memorial That Separates Dead by Race

Thursday, 21 May 2015 04:38 PM

Five veterans have sued South Carolina for the right to replace bronze plaques on a public memorial that separate those who died in the country's two world wars under the headings of "white" and "colored."

"We just did not think it was appropriate to honor those who died for our country in such a segregationist fashion," said attorney Clarence Rauch Wise, who sued on behalf of the veterans in Greenwood, South Carolina.

The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday, comes after those in favor of changing the memorial got push back from state lawmakers.

The Greenwood memorial was erected in 1929 to honor local residents who died in World War One and was later updated to add World War Two dead. It is owned by American Legion Post No. 20.

But South Carolina legislators passed a law in 2000 that forbids the alteration of any monument on public land without their approval.

The Heritage Act was passed to appease legislators who opposed the removal in 2000 of the Confederate battle flag from the dome of the State House. The law was intended to protect a new monument to the Confederate dead on the State House grounds.

The veterans' suit, the first court challenge to the 15-year-old law, asks a judge to declare it unconstitutional, Wise said.

But some historians in the state say changing the plaques risks important contributions made by black troops being forgotten.

"In addition to erasing the legacy of segregation and forgetting that story, you also forget the black men who fought and died in that war," said Ehren Foley, a historian with the South Carolina Department of Archives and History.

Greenwood's mayor supports swapping out the plaques for new ones that would not divide the local war dead by race. The replacements have already been made, his office said.

"The old plaques were going to be put into a museum so that people will not forget our past," Wise said.

 

 

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Five veterans have sued South Carolina for the right to replace bronze plaques on a public memorial that separate those who died in the country's two world wars under the headings of "white" and "colored."
south carolina, lawsuit, war, memorial, race
322
2015-38-21
Thursday, 21 May 2015 04:38 PM
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