After watching Jon Stewart’s on-point and poignant words regarding the tragic shooting at the AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, (watch it here before you continue reading!) I was curious about his statement that “the roads [in South Carolina] are named for Confederate generals.” I wanted to see the prevalence of  Confederate Generals’ names as opposed to African American leaders’ names on street signs in South Carolina . For the African American leaders’ names I referred to those inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame. For the Confederate Generals, I picked four famous generals with connections to South Carolina. I used Google Maps to find all the streets with variations of these names (e.g. Robert E. Lee Ave. and Robert E. Lee Blvd.) in South Carolina.

Confederate Generals:

African Americans inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame:

  • Mary McLeod Bethune
  • Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden, Jr.
  • Maude Callen
  • Septima Poinsette Clark
  • Marian Wright Edelman
  • Ernest A. Finney, Jr.
  • John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie
  • Benjamin E. Mays, Ph.D.
  • Ronald Erwin McNair, Ph.D.
  • Matthew Perry
  • Philip Simmons
  • Robert Smalls

I found that for the 12 African Americans listed, they only had 10 streets named after them in South Carolina, while these 4 Confederate Generals had 44 in total. How’s that for disparate ratios!

Not only was Jon Stewart right when he said “the roads [in South Carolina] are named for Confederate generals,” but he can also add on that there is a clear disregard for honoring the African American leaders of South Carolina.

Please note that this was done hastily and I apologize in advance for any errors. If you have any thoughts, comments, questions, or suggestions, feel free to contact me and I will respond as promptly as possible.


Laura

Laura Newman Eckstein is the Judaica Digital Humanities Coordinator a the University of Pennsylvania. She is an enthusiastic cartophile, a digital humanities lover, and creative spirit. Currently, Laura lives in Philadelphia, where she enjoys spending her free time exploring the city with friends, reading books, and playing with her landlord's dog.