As far as mid-sized Southern cities go, Columbia, SC has a lot to offer.
Its assortment of Stuff We Don’t Got Yet in the Triad includes a ramen restaurant, a bougie ice-cream parlor (think roasted-beet-and-feta ice cream) a straight-up vegan restaurant.
It’s the state capital, too, so I dragged my sweaty family to the grounds of the State House on Assembly Street so that I could conduct a teaching moment.
I lined them up under the most prominent monument, dedicated to the soldiers of Confederacy, who attempted an armed insurrection against the United States of America just four score and seven years after its formation.
I explained to my children that behind the statue of the soldier, who is quite literally on a pedestal, there once flew a Confederate flag, right here in front of the state capitol. That didn’t happen back in 1879, when the statue was unveiled, I further explained. It was decreed four score and three years afterwards, by state law in 1962, during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, as an effort to intimidate black people in this place that was once entirely dependent on slave labor.
And at first, the offending flag flew atop the dome of the State House, to be relocated to the memorial in May 2000. They moved it because of a threatened NCAA boycott.
It took a North Carolina woman, Bree Newsome of Charlotte, to pull it down early one morning in June 2015 after scaling the 30-foot flagpole and tearing it from its tether. This was in the wake of a racially motivated shooting down the road at a Charleston church, after which the South Carolina legislature began debating the removal of the Confederate flag from the State House grounds, which it finally did in July 2015.
I swept my arms across the wide plaza to impress upon my children the events of history that had happened right here. And for a moment they humored me. But really they just wanted to get back to the ice cream place.