Change the name of Wade Hampton High School
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Wade Hampton III was a Lieutenant General in the Confederate Army and one of the largest slaveholders in the Southeast before the Civil War, owning around 3,000 slaves. After the war, he became governor of South Carolina with the help of the Redshirts, a paramilitary group that worked to suppress African-American voters in the South. During his campaign, an estimated 150 African-Americans were killed while attempting to vote. As governor, Wade Hampton got to work raising legal funds for the Ku Klux Klan and promoting segregation and racist policies in our great state. He was known to “regret the use” of African-American troops to occupy South Carolina after it rejoined the Union.
In Greenville, South Carolina, a school is named after him. Wade Hampton High School has a minority enrollment of 39%, and a student body of around 1,500. In the student handbook, it explains the significance of the school's namesake: scholarship, heritage, involvement, and values. It is the heritage and values that are concerning to minority students at Wade Hampton High, because the essential question is this: whose values? In this case, the values exemplified by Wade Hampton. Racism, bigotry, and a blatant lack of patriotism. These are not values of South Carolinians and should not continue to be enshrined in a place of learning . The Wade Hampton handbook also goes on to describe that at Wade Hampton High, “We take great pride in our history and heritage.” The question again must be posed of whose heritage, and the answer? The heritage of slaveholders and Confederates in South Carolina, not students at the school. Wade Hampton’s heritage is not that of the school population simply because it includes the ownership of human beings.
In South Carolina, we love our country. Wade Hampton did not. He fought to destroy it.
In South Carolina, we treat everyone with respect. Wade Hampton did not.
In South Carolina, we remember our history, but we do not glorify racists and slaveholders.
In South Carolina, we remember honorable men. Men who fought to make our cities and states better. There is one Greenvillian that stands high above the rest: a man of honor, or vision, and of courage. That man is Max Heller.
Max Heller was a former mayor of Greenville, and he laid the foundation for the beautiful city Greenville is today. He was a man with integrity, and a man who fought back against vicious anti-Semitic attacks. Max Heller created a better Greenville for all residents, and is the very opposite of General Wade Hampton -- Mayor Heller was a man who loved his country, who fought to make Greenville more inclusive, and who strived to better it. Wade Hampton chose to divide it.
By signing this petition, you stand with the minority students at Wade Hampton High School and reaffirm the need to leave the school’s racist and unpatriotic name behind us, refusing to honor a man who bought and sold human beings and was a traitor to his country.
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