NORTH AUGUSTA, SC (WJBF) – Leaders in Aiken County came to a resolution about a controversial park. The North Augusta City Council voted to add educational plaques where the Meriwether Monument stands.

The top of the hill in downtown North Augusta will soon change. The Meriwether Monument, which reads was erected for the young hero of the Hamburg riot, will soon have educational plaques that tell another story.

“We had, basically the study session, and I thought it was wonderful,” Mayor Briton Williams said. “We had folks come forward during the reading and we passed it unanimously, which we needed to.”

The vote comes after years of complaints and subsequent meetings. Local journalist Ken Makin, who lives in North Augusta, gave the council two options: take the statue dedicated to Thomas McKie Meriwether down or formally denounce it. Former Mayor Bob Pettit formed a racially balanced committee to look into the monument’s future. That was in 2017. Today, part of that committee’s vision is rewriting history to not just reflect the lone white person’s death that happened in July of 1876. Three interpretive historical panels, outfitted with QR codes, will tell the story of how Free Blacks living in Hamburg, South Carolina were not only killed as well but executed.

Mayor Williams said, “This Hamburg Massacre really is what basically impacted Reconstruction being very political in 1876. This was national. The President was talking about it, the Senate, House, they debated this.”

Following the massacre and Reconstruction, the United States entered the Jim Crow Era where several Anglo Saxon monuments went up. One of the panels in Calhoun Park, funded with $20,000 Capital Project money, will explain Meriwether Monument’s 1916 dedication from public-private dollars in the Palmetto State.

“It’s lipstick on a pig,” Makin explained. “It is to say that we can’t learn about history beyond having a white supremacist monument on the hill.”

For Makin, who has taken his concerns to the state level, the goal remains to get rid of the monument. He said it’s not just Meriwether’s story and words such as “…he exemplified the highest ideal of Anglo-Saxon civilization” on the statue. But he said it’s also Calhoun Park.

“Calhoun as in John C. Calhoun, who said in 1837 that slavery was a positive good,” said Makin. “And you go a little further into downtown and you’ll pass the Wade Hampton Veterans Park. Wade Hampton, of course, is the governor who was part of the Redeemers. The Redeemers, they called themselves that because they believed that white supremacy was something that God led them to do.”

“Education overcomes ignorance,” Mayor Williams said.

Mayor Williams told NewsChannel 6 the community can expect the plaques to go up in a few months. And he hopes that people also make their way to the historic Carrsville area to learn more about Hamburg, something Makin does support too.

Photojournalists: Regynal McKie & Gary Hipps