Activist renews call for African American monument in Greenville, wants city to pay for it

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GREENVILLE, S.C. – It’s been nearly two years since a local community activist announced his plan to have an African American memorial constructed right near a Confederate statue at Springwood Cemetery. 

Tuesday, Fighting Injustice Together Founder Bruce Wilson told media, to his surprise, the city now doesn’t want to pay for it. 

“If the City of Greenville cannot build a brand new African American monument to contrast the Confederate statue then they will find themselves repairing an old Confederate statue,” Wilson said. 

Wilson said he’s prevented people in the past from vandalizing the old Confederate statue with the hope that the city would correct, what he views, as a wrong.

“We have so many of these racist symbols in the Greenville are and it’s time to end it,” Wilson said.

In a press conference at City Hall Tuesday, Wilson introduced the person he wants to see memorialized, Sergeant William Carney.

Carney, a born slave and black soldier to earn the medal of honor, to many was considered a hero, according to Wilson. 

Greenville Mayor Knox White told 7News in a statement Tuesday: 

Ideas for public art are always welcome. We have so many examples of excellent public art downtown.  All are partially funded, however, and the submission process goes through the Arts in Public Places Commission.

In recent years, the Confederate statue in Greenville has been at the center of controversy with calls to remove it. 

It was in 2017 that Wilson first made his call to erect an African American memorial to contrast the current statue.

Wilson added that he was under the impression the city, with help from Furman University, would chip in to create the new statue, but that he was told recently that’s no longer the case. 

“Since the city is willing, with taxpayers’ money, to have upkeep of a Confederate statue than certainty we can find the funds to erect an African American monument of a Union soldier,” Wilson said. 

7News reached out to the city’s Arts in Public Places Commission Senior Economic Development Project Manager Tracy Ramseur to see if the monument had been submitted for review.

Ramseur said it had not. 

Below is her response, in part:

I am not familiar with the proposed project, as an application has not been submitted to the City for consideration. Here is a link to the application for public art: https://www.greenvillesc.gov/DocumentCenter/View/4917/Application-for-Placement-of-Public-Art?bidId=. All applications for public art are reviewed by the City’s Arts in Public Places Commission.

The responsibilities of the Commission are as follows: evaluate and recommend specific pieces of art for placement throughout the city; develop, adopt and periodically revise a plan for public art for the identification of strategic sites for the placement of objects of public art; establish partnerships and funding opportunities for public art; and promote awareness of art, and public art in particular, in the community. 

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