Columbia, SC (WLTX) - In the middle of a national conversation on the tearing down of Confederate monuments, two state lawmakers are pushing to build something new.
There are 27 monuments surrounding the South Carolina State House. Senators Greg Gregory and Darrell Jackson are aiming to build a monument in honor of escaped slave turned Civil War hero, Robert Smalls.
"Smalls was both a warrior and a peace maker, he was both a combative and a kind man and an amazing man who accomplished incredible feats," says Sen. Gregory, R-Lancaster. "Unfortunately few South Carolinians know of this man, one of our greatest citizens and we're seeking to change that."
"This would be the first monument on the State House ground of an African American, particularly a Reconstruction era politician, as a full monument," says Sen. Jackson, D-Richland.
Currently the African American History Monument is the only one of its kind on the grounds.
Smalls' great-great-grandson Michael B. Moore, has been working with the senators to make the monument a reality.
"While some know him as congressman, some know him as general, we grew up knowing him as grandpa and we learned about the human being that he was," says Moore.
Sen. Jackson says creating a statue honoring Robert Smalls is not meant to take away from the conversation many around the nation are having, calling for the removal of Confederate statues. Instead, he hopes that it will serve as another piece of South Carolina's history.
"History is not always good," says Sen. Jackson. "Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad and sometimes it's ugly, but it's history and it's important for us to tell the whole story."
A vote on the statue is expected in the next legislative session, which starts in January.