House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) is sharing his opinion of the statues protesters are targeting as he is insisting they should be more selective in their decisions.
During an interview with The Hill on Tuesday, the top Democrat noted the history of Ulysses S. Grant, his contributions to former slaves in post-Civil War America, and his opposition toward slavery.
“I know enough about history to know that Ulysses Grant was the best friend that former slaves had coming out of the Civil War,” Clyburn said.
He continued, “I know that what caused him great pause when he was about to marry. The young lady he wanted to marry, he had real problems with the fact that … her family owned slaves. … So it was a big mistake on the part of anybody to tear down his statue, and the same thing applies to a lot of others.”
When asked about the vandalism of Grant’s statues and those of others that feature anti-slavery advocates and abolitionists, Clyburn said, “To that I say, ignorance is bliss.”
“The fact of the matter is that’s why I’m a big advocate of people sitting down around the table and having sensible discussions. If they were to have sensible discussions about these things, people would be more careful about anything that resembles mob action.”
Although he does support the removal of statues featuring John Calhoun and other slavery advocates, Clyburn also reiterated the importance of taking careful, deliberate action in deciding which statues should be removed.
“I think the two statues we’ve got up there, John C. Calhoun, one of the biggest proponents of slavery, and I’m glad to see that Charleston, S.C., took his statue down and that Clemson [University] took his name down off their honors college,” Clyburn said.
See Clyburn’s remarks below:
He later added, “We ought to go over all of these things, study these issues, look at who these people were, have a sensible discussion and then make a decision as to whether or not they deserve a place of honor.”
Next week, the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on a bill to remove statues or monuments of historic figures who advocated for the Confederacy and/or fought to uphold slavery.