The city of Charleston has rightly removed a racist and historically inaccurate plaque from Ruffner Memorial Park 98 years after the plaque was installed by the Daughters of the Confederacy.
The Ruffner family gave the land the park now ocupies to the city in 1831 for use as a cemetery, and about 130 people were buried there. In 1920, the city approved converting it into a park. Only a few families could afford to have their loved ones’ graves relocated. So, the city shockingly tipped the remaining graves over and buried them in sod, according to numerous reports.
Two years later, a plaque honoring the Confederacy and the Kanawha Riflemen, a local militia that had supported the Confederacy, was unveiled. Members of the Kanawha Riflemen together owned more than 200 enslaved people.
Charleston resident Calvin Grimm said he discovered the park on a walk one day and was appalled when he read the plaque, which also honored a “colored cook” who was “faithful during the war.” Since he first saw the plaque, he has been researching its history and asking local leaders to remove the plaque.
He said he was happy to see the plaque had been removed.
“I’d walk past it and want to do bad things to it but I’m glad the city of Charleston did it in an official way,” he said.
Little is known today about the people buried at Ruffner, but Grimm said he would like the city to create a project to identify them.
ACLU-WV commends the city for removing this monument to white supremacy.