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Florence NAACP opposes Harllee statue location

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FLORENCE, S.C. — The Florence branch of the NAACP opposes placing a bronze statue of William W. Harllee and his daughter, Florence Henning Harlee, at the Florence County Museum in downtown Florence.

On July 21, the Florence County Council voted 5-4 to install the statue at the Florence County Museum, 111 W. Cheves St. in downtown Florence. In 2018, the museum board rejected the County Council’s request because the statue hadn’t gone through the proper vetting process, was too large and had sharp edges, which could be a hazard to children at the museum.

The sculpture depicts William W. Harllee and Florence Henning Harllee standing next to railroad tracks. It is titled “This Place Will Be Called In Your Name, Florence.”

In a press statement, the Florence branch of the NAACP calls the County Council’s decision an affront to the African-American community and the Greater Florence community.

“Insensitive decisions such as this serve no purpose beyond widening the gulf that currently exists in this country. We are asking like-minded citizens to express your concerns about this decision to your County Councilman,” according to the press statement.

The County Council’s decision comes as most progressive communities are removing displays of Confederate monuments, according to the statement.

The sculpture by Alex Palkovich was completed in 2018. The Harllee Memorial Sculpture Committee, a 501 ©3 non-profit, raised the funding to create of the sculpture. The committee was formed by Gale Dixon. William Harllee is Dixon’s great-great-great uncle. She wanted something visible to recognize Harllee and his daughter, Florence, as the founder and namesake of Florence.

The statue is controversial because of Harllee’s connections to the Confederacy. He was a brigadier general in the in the South Carolina militia in the 1840s. Harllee raised the Pee Dee Legion as a brigade for Confederate service during the Civil War, while also serving as the state’s finance director. He was South Carolina’s lieutenant governor when the state seceded from the union.

Harllee also was founder, owner and president of the Wilmington-Manchester Railroad, and located a depot on the rail line, which would become the city of Florence.

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