It is nice to see signs of progress amidst the political regression and violence that we see on the news every day. I am inspired by small signs of progress at the local level. This is the first historical marker in South Carolina that mentions the terror and persecution of Black people by the Ku Klux Klan. It also celebrates the liberation migration of Blacks in this town to Liberia.
Here is a video of decendants of Elias Hill and others in the community celebrating the installation of the plaque. It is interesting to note that in 1871, the same year that the folks emigrated to Liberia, the U.S. Congress passed the Ku Klux KLan Act that authorized the President to intervene in the former rebel states that attempted to deny “any person or any class of persons of the equal protection of the laws, or of equal privileges or immunities under the laws.” To take action against this newly defined federal crime, the President could suspend habeas corpus, deploy the U.S. military, or use “other means, as he may deem necessary.” The Ku Klux Klan were driven out of South Carolina and completely dismantled for a time until it resurfaced toward the beginning of the 20th century. According to Wikipedia, several of the act’s provisions still exist today, the most important of these is 42 U.S.C. § 1983: Civil action for deprivation of rights. It is the most widely used civil rights enforcement statute, allowing people to sue in civil court over civil rights violations.
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