Thousands of people have signed petitions calling for a Confederate monument in Chadwick Boseman’s hometown to be replaced with a memorial for the late actor.
In the wake of the “Black Panther” star’s death on Friday, a Change.org appeal appeared, urging the city of Anderson, South Carolina and state lawmakers to remove the Confederate monument in the city’s downtown area and erect a statue to Boseman. The original monument, dedicated to Confederate veterans, is a likeness of Maj. William Wirt Humphreys, the editor of a local paper and a proponent of slavery who fought in the Civil War.
At the time of this writing, the petition had been signed by more than 8,000 people. A similar petition addressed to Anderson Mayor Terence Roberts had been signed by more than 2,000 people.
DeAndre Weaver, the author of the larger petition, said Boseman “spent his life uplifting the stories of Black Americans both real and fictional” and thus was a fitting successor to the divisive monument. He recalled when Boseman rented a movie theater in Anderson and showed “Black Panther” for free after its release “so that young boys and girls could be inspired by the film without the financial barrier.”
“His legacy was one of excellence and equality,” Weaver wrote. “As fellow citizens go about their day they should have a face that sees all people as equal.”
The other petition, authored by an anonymous user identifying themselves as an Anderson citizen, stated that Boseman was a “true local legend” who broke barriers for Black people with his portrayals of pioneering Black leaders, including the first Black Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, singer James Brown and baseball player Jackie Robinson.
“It is only natural that his hometown honors what he did,” the petition stated. “There is no need for political controversy in this decision.”
The petition also suggested that the old statue be displayed at the Anderson County Museum and accompanied by a description of its history that did not honor the ideals of the Confederacy.
“We need to memorialize people who contribute to society, not those who wanted to control and oppress it,” wrote one signatory, Jennifer Baughman.
“A man who brought greater understanding and representation to an underserved population sure deserves a spot on his hometown more than a traitor who supported that same population’s enslavement,” wrote David Hitchcock, another person who signed the petition.
In June, someone vandalized the Confederate statue during the nationwide anti-racism upheaval over the death of George Floyd and other Black people in police custody.
Proponents for the Confederate statue’s removal pointed to its painful reminder of Black oppression and slavery; opponents said removing it would erase history.
At the time, Roberts said the city was discussing what direction to take. However, the Confederate statue was protected by South Carolina’s heritage act and it would require authorization from a two-thirds majority of the state legislature to remove, he said.
HuffPost has reached out to the city for comment regarding the petitions.
Boseman died on Friday at age 43 after a private four-year battle with colon cancer.
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