Denmark Vesey Statue.

Denmark Vesey Statue

Field review by the editors.

Charleston, South Carolina

Begun in 1996, it wasn't until 2014 that Charleston erected its bronze statue of Denmark Vesey. The sculpture by Ed Dwight is hardly melodramatic, depicting a dignified Vesey calmly holding a Bible and his carpentry tools, facing southeast.

Yet depending on who you talked to in Charleston, Vesey was either a freedom fighter or a terrorist. The former characterization eventually won out -- hence the statue -- but Vesey will likely always be controversial in Charleston.

In 1822 Vesey was a free black man, but his wife and children were not. He devised a plan, supposedly (the facts are vague), for the enslaved people of Charleston to revolt, fight their way to the waterfront, and then sail to freedom in Haiti. Any whites who resisted -- or who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time -- would be killed. Since blacks outnumbered whites 10 to 1 in Charleston the plan could have succeeded, but Vesey was betrayed and he and 34 other blacks were hanged.

Opponents of the statue suggested substituting other famous South-Carolina-born blacks, such as Chubby Checker or Challenger astronaut Ronald McNair. But neither was from Charleston, and Vesey got the statue -- although we'd like to see a Chubby Checker statue somewhere, too.

Denmark Vesey Statue

Hampton Park

Address:
30 Mary Murray Drive, Charleston, SC
Directions:
Hampton Park. Use the lot on the north side of the park. Walk south, bear left, then left again. The statue will be on the right, just before the green-roofed gazebo.
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Nearby Offbeat Places

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In the region:
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