Thousands are lobbying to replace a Confederate monument with a statue honoring actor Chadwick Boseman, who recently died after a private battle with cancer, in his hometown of Anderson, South Carolina.
At least two petitions circulating on Change.org are asking local and state officials to erect a public memorial commemorating the beloved actor near the county courthouse in Anderson.
“Mr. Boseman is without question an American treasure and his accolades go on and on. It is only fitting that his work is honored in the same place that birthed him,” wrote Anderson University Student DeAndre Weaver, who started one of the petitions.
A second petition, created by a user identified as “Anderson Citizen,” has also gained traction.
“I believe the community should come together to honor someone from Anderson, South Carolina that was able to change the movie industry. He opened many doors for many young Black people with his leading roles in movies such as Black Panther or Marshall. It is only natural that his hometown honors what he did,” it read.
That petition goes on to state that it’s not aiming to destroy the existing monument, a Confederate soldier standing atop a platform, but rather relocating it to a local museum.
“It is beyond time for its retirement. The Anderson County Museum should be the permanent home to the Confederate Monument,” the petition’s authors wrote. “It should be accompanied by the history of the monument and the reasoning for its relocation. It should preserve history, but not honor the ideals for which the Confederacy stood.”
Both petitions, directed toward Anderson Mayor Terence Roberts, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster and the state legislature, also addressed the Heritage Act, which governs the memorial’s removal with a two-thirds vote by the state legislature.
“I hope that the government of South Carolina see that the fate of said statues should be in the people’s hands, not just government officials,” one of the petition stated.
“The statue is on county property, but under the state’s purview. City of Anderson Mayor Roberts is open to working with the county and state to find a path going forward for the monument. Right now, our town is grieving the loss of a native son. We feel that it’s appropriate that our hearts and minds are focused now on grieving the loss of Chadwick Boseman,” a spokesperson from the city of Anderson said. “I can also tell you that there is no doubt that we will put together a permanent and public and fitting tribute to Chadwick Boseman. We will do it in world class fashion. We’re gonna do it right.”
McMaster’s office did not return a request for comment by NBC News.
Anderson is planning a public memorial service for Boseman on Thursday night that will include a screening of his iconic role as King T’Challa in “Black Panther.”
The actor was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016 and died Friday from the illness at age 43, according to a statement from his family.
His death came as a shock to fans worldwide as he had never publicly discussed his health battle. The depth of the actor’s impact was apparent through hundreds of tributes and homages, including by young children.
In addition to his breakthrough role in “Black Panther,” Boseman was also well known for his powerful portrayals of Thurgood Marshall, James Brown, and Jackie Robinson.
“Anderson needs to honor a citizen that inspired millions, Anderson needs Chadwick Boseman,” the petition stated. “May he rest in peace.”