Son of a Confederate Veteran That We Should All Celebrate

Judge Waites Waring Statue Outside Federal Courthouse in Charleston, SC

Judge Waites Waring Statue Outside Federal Courthouse in Charleston, SC

On April 11 at statue to Judge Julius Waites Waring will be unveiled in Charleston, South Carolina. Waring was the son of a Confederate veteran, who was eventually appointed by Franklin Roosevelt to the federal bench. He is best remembered for his dissent in the 1951 case, Briggs vs. Elliott, which anticipated the landmark case of Brown vs. Board of Ed a few years later. In his dissent Waring concluded that, “segregation in education can never produce equality and it is an evil that must be eradicated . . . . Segregation is per se inequality.”

After retiring from the bench Waring moved to New York City. Many in his home state considered him a pariah. The unveiling of this statue comes on the eve of the 60th anniversary of Brown, but as Professor of Law Jody Armour reminds us, this is also happening at a time when South Carolina is reconsidering its broader collective memory.

“South Carolina seems to be reconciling more with its racial history because it has been a stronghold of virulent anti-black racism for a long time and I’m not stretching to say that.” Armour said.”And it may be saying a lot about the state’s new way of viewing itself… no longer perhaps as one of the last strongholds of the Old South and Confederacy way of thinking, but a way of recognizing there was a sea change morally and they were at the heart of it. They weren’t just fighting change. They were spearheading change.”

It’s an overly simplistic point, but there is something quite satisfying in considering the trajectory between a father’s service in the Confederate army and a son’s work to dismantle the very system it hoped to perpetuate.

18 thoughts on “Son of a Confederate Veteran That We Should All Celebrate

  1. Michael Williams

    Kevin why is it you can’t understand that the SCV are good people this is the second time you badmouthed the SCV Segregation was a system the federal troops put in place.
    Yes some southerners are racist but only some, every time I read something you post it seems to me that you hate the SCV and every thing southern.
    “Those people” that are racist are not real southerners not at all.

    Deo Vindice

    Reply
    1. Kevin Levin Post author

      I didn’t even mention the SCV. I simply referenced that Waring was the son of a Confederate veteran.

      Yes some southerners are racist but only some, every time I read something you post it seems to me that you hate the SCV and every thing southern.

      First, the SCV does not represent “every thing southern.” That is a ridiculous comment that reflects your own narrowmindedness. And here I thought this post was celebrating the South. Oh well.

      Reply
    2. JohnM

      Nowhere in this post did Kevin even mention the SCV, let alone badmouth them. The post actually praises a literal son of a Confederate veteran. Strike one.
      Also, segregation was put in place by the states, not the federal government. Strike two.
      Finally, the “No true Scotsman” BS doesn’t become true just because you say so. Racist southerners were and are real southerners. They may be declining in number, but they still exist and are still southerners. Strike three. Next batter.

      Reply
  2. Rachel

    Mr. Levin,
    Is it OK if we, as white Jews, wish to segregate ourselves? If so, may white Episcopalians also segregate on that same principle?

    Reply
    1. Kevin Levin Post author

      By segregate I assume you mean the decision to structure an institution such as a school loosely or strictly around Jewish education. It’s a good question and one that I’ve struggled with during my short time working at a Jewish academy. To a certain extent I find it stifling. I worry about the students when they graduate and have to learn to deal with people from very different backgrounds.

      Reply
  3. Mary Ellen Maatman

    Judge Waring was a true civil rights hero, and many of his fellow white denizens of Charleston, S.C. ostracized him for what he did. He was essentially hounded out of South Carolina. I’m very pleased to see that he is now being remembered and honored. Tinsley Yarbrough wrote a good biography of Waring, entitled “A Passion for Justice: J. Waties Waring and Civil Rights.” The book appears to be out of print but you might find it in a library. I strongly recommend it. Waring is an inspiration.

    Reply
  4. Brad

    What he did obviously took a great deal of courage, considering where he lived. It’s good to see that he’s remembered and honored, in a very small way.

    Reply
  5. Scott A. MacKenzie

    Fun fact: the lead defense counsel on Brown vs. Board of Education was John W. Davis, the son of a West Virginia Unionist, albeit a conservative one who supported slavery and opposed the Republicans. It just shows the amazing complexity of the politics of the Civil War and Reconstruction. There is simply nothing neat or clean about it.

    Reply
  6. Rachel

    Mr. Levin,
    Thank you for your reply. I suppose I am kinda sensitive to this whole idea, because I know that as Jews, we often choose to segregate ourselves, and I just don’t feel as if I should have to give that right up. I also know that the Jewish Homeland, Israel, completely depends on the right to segregate. So I just don’t feel that I, or any other Jew really, has right or the moral authority to criticize others for what I, and we, also do. For me, I guess that is what it comes down to.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Levin Post author

      I think we should distinguish between the degrees to which we choose to congregate in communities for specific purposes and legislation that creates second class citizens. My school doesn’t explicitly deny admission to African Americans. In fact, we have a few black students. I wish it were more, but that has to do with the Jewish population in Boston, which a number of people don’t seem to understand. Anyway, thanks again for the comment.

      Reply

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