The Confederate Streets of South Carolina

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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.

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Laura Newman Eckstein is a recent alum of Haverford College. She is an enthusiastic cartophile, a digital humanities lover, and creative spirit. Currently, Laura lives in Portland, Oregon where she makes maps and works on her urban farm.