Two petitions asking Anderson, South Carolina officials to replace a Confederate statue with one honoring hometown star Chadwick Boseman both have thousands of signatures. Boseman was born and raised in Anderson, attending T.L. Hanna High School before attending college at Howard University. Boseman died on Friday at 43, following a four-year battle with colon cancer.
Anderson has a Confederate monument located just outside the county courthouse in its Town Square. It had already been at the center of protests and was defaced in June, reports the Independent Mail. Anderson Mayor Terence Roberts planned to work with County Council Chairman Tommy Dunn to "quickly" work together on a plan for the monument's future. "It's totally against our fabric, our way of life in this community and what we believe in," Roberts, the city's first Black mayor said.
One new petition created by an Anderson citizen has over 4,800 signatures. "I believe the community should come together to honor someone from Anderson, South Carolina that was able to change the movie industry," the petitioner wrote. "He opened many doors for many young black people with his leading roles in movies such as Black Panther or Marshall. It is only natural that his hometown honors what he did." They added that there should be no "political controversy" surrounding the decision, and called for the monument to be moved to the county museum.
Another petition on Change.org has over 3,500 signatures. Michelle Diaz, who started the petition, wrote that adding a Boseman monument could show that South Carolina "does believe in progress." "I think it would be a great addition to our state and it would also be an honor," the petition reads. "I think the monument would be best placed either in Anderson, SC where he is from or in the state capital, Columbia, SC."
Sam Brooks, an Anderson resident who organized a petition to remove the Confederate monument but was not involved in the Boseman petitions, voiced support for the idea, especially as Boseman also supported Black representation on the big screen. "When someone like that from your hometown dies, you want to honor them. And I think that's the heart of it," Brooks told the Independent Mail. "And also, what better way to honor him than to just remove or relocate something that needs to be should have been gone a long time ago?"
Following Boseman's death, several Anderson officials released their own tributes to the Black Panther star, including Roberts. "His parents are very humble and private people, it does not surprise me that he decided to be very private about his illness and through the stages of death," the mayor said. "It speaks to his character. His values were instilled by them."