I’ve been thinking about ancestor worship lately. A friend of mine is a member of the design committee for a monument being erected downtown in honor of one of Greenville’s more notable mayors, Max Heller. I don’t know what form the memorial will take (and it is rather odd that Heller isn’t even dead yet), but its neighbors on Main Street will include baseball legend “Shoeless Joe” Jackson, scientist Charles Townes (who invented the laser), builder Vardry McBee (considered by some to be the “Father of Greenville”) and Antebellum statesman Joel Poinsett. His statue is erected on the site where, on July 4, 1851, just a few months before his death, he delivered a speech in favor of preserving the Union. This nod to non-belligerence I group together with the Sterling High School monument honoring Greenville County’s first black high school. Both seem to me to be forms of apology endemic to the “progressive South.” But more on that later.
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