Rep. Mike Burns to prefile bill to honor African-American Confederates with monument

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Two Upstate South Carolina legislators, including one from Travelers Rest, plan to prefile a bill calling for a monument honoring African-American Confederates in the War Between The States to be built on State House grounds in Columbia, according to a media release.

Representatives Mike Burns (R-Travelers Rest) and Bill Chumley (R-Woodruff) want approval for the monument to be considered during the 2018 legislative session.

"Explaining the War Between The States and the events leading up to it is much more complex than can be explained by a few paragraphs in a history book," Burns said. "This monument can help educate current and future generations of a little-known -- but important -- part of South Carolina history.

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"These African-Americans, like many of their Caucasian contemporaries, stepped up to defend their home state during a tumultuous time in our country's history," Burns said. "Their service has largely been overlooked or forgotten. Rep. Chumley and I want to remedy this oversight."

"The Bible says to honor our fathers and mothers," Rep. Chumley said. "In that same vein, we can honor South Carolinians who showed more than 150 years ago that they loved their state as much then as Sandlappers of all persuasions do today."

The S.C. Department of History and Archives lists 328 African-Americans who filed pension applications as Confederate veterans, according to and cited in the release.

One of those was Lavinia Corley-Thompson, an Aiken native who served as a cook under Sam Webb in Company A, 1st Regiment of Reserves.

Dr. Walter Curry of Columbia, a small business owner and a board member of the South Carolina African-American Chamber of Commerce, is a great-great-great-grandson of Lavinia Corley-Thompson. Dr. Curry said he was pleased that his ancestor and other African-Americans would be honored by the proposed monument, according to the media release.

"African-American soldiers fought courageously on both sides in the Civil War," Dr. Curry said. "It is imperative that we as state give due honor to our South Carolina African-American Confederate Veterans. They are the forgotten ones. This legislation is an important step to educate all South Carolinians of an overlooked narrative pertaining to the Civil War."

Rep. Chumley said a specific design for the monument will be revealed at a later date.

Options include, but are not limited to, a sculpture, a structure with plaques listing names of African-American Confederate veterans or some combination of the two, Chumley said.

The S.C. Department of History and Archives pension application rolls can be used as a starting point for the list.

Rep. Chumley said South Carolinians who have evidence an African-American ancestor served in the Confederate military will have an opportunity to submit information, the release said.


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