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Conflicts over Confederate names and symbols likely to continue

Statue of Wade Hampton outside the Capitol building, Columbia, S.C. Photo courtesy of iStock.com.

Paul Hyde of The Greenville News spoke with three South Carolina experts about the heated debate swirling around Confederate symbols and names. Sparking local discussion is a local high school named for Confederate lieutenant general and slaveholder Wade Hampton. Furman Education professor Paul Thomas and Furman History professor Courtney Tollison weighed in on Greenville’s issue and other cities embroiled in icon controversy. Thomas argues school administrators should use the Wade Hampton high situation as a springboard for debate and an important lesson in democracy, saying, “If we really think that public education is to prepare people to live in a democracy, children need to have experiences with democratic processes.”

Tollison advances the idea that the history of America suggests a trend “toward greater inclusiveness over time.” She said, “All social movements evolve. In the 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement fought for equal political and voting rights. After that was legislatively achieved, the movement began to focus on social inequality, job discrimination and incarceration. This (protests over controversial monuments and building names) seems like a natural progression.”

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