Charleston mayor proposes compromise in Calhoun statue battle

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A possible compromise in the works in the controversy over the John C. Calhoun statue in Marion Square.

One day after protesters gathered in Marion Square to call for the statue to come down, Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg pitched a proposal to keep the statue standing.

Tecklenburg says it's time to tell the entire story about Calhoun, who was a strong supporter of slavery.

"I'm not saying it's a pretty story, it's ugly," Tecklenburg said. The mayor says that story has to be told somewhere at the site of the statue without removing the monument.

"I think it's appropriate to add rather than to take away," he said. "Add to the story so it's the full story. Tell the truth, tell the whole truth and it will set you free."

National Action Network State President Elder James Johnson says he can accept the mayor's proposal as a temporary fix. But Johnson still wants the Calhoun statue to come down.

"He's still causing havoc from the grave right now and the rest of these statues throughout America are still causing problems right now," Johnson said.

The Washington Light Infantry, the organization the city has said owns the statue and the land beneath it, came out opposing the removal of the Calhoun statue. In a statement, they said, "History is history good or bad, and removing the statue won't change that."

The organization's commander said they do support the mayor's proposal.

College of Charleston history professor Dr. Adam Domby is writing a book on Confederate monuments. Domby believes the Calhoun statue and similar monuments are not about history, but are about power.

"It's not a complete story of history, this monument as it is right now and that's a problem," Domby said.

Tecklenburg plans to discuss what should be added to the statue at a meeting next month with the city's history commission.

Under the state's Heritage Act, at least two-thirds of the house and senate have to agree to take down or move monuments.

Tecklenburg believes he will be able to add to the statue without legislative approval.

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