Charleston Wine + Food announced yesterday that it will no longer host events on plantations and would remove the Culinary Village from Marion Square unless the Calhoun statute was removed. In a statement on Facebook, the festival posted:
Charleston Wine + Food calls for the removal of the John C. Calhoun monument located in Marion Square and will cease use of the space to host events until the monument is removed. Furthermore, we have banned the use of plantations as venues for any future festival events. We not only plan to boycott use of Marion Square, but together, with support of our Board of Directors, plan to take action to work with community leaders, local nonprofits, and lawmakers to see it removed.
Calhoun was an American statesman from South Carolina who strongly defended slavery. “While some may say that the monument is just a symbol, symbols matter,” says Gillian Zettler, Executive Director of Charleston Wine + Food. “In the words of Maya Angelou, ‘Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.’ And that is what we are doing; Consistently striving to do better and be better. This is just the start of the work we have to do.”
Others from the Charleston community found this move performative however. Amethyst Ganaway, a chef originally from North Charleston and Eater contributor, thought that these decisions should have been made before the current outcry for racial equality. She writes on Twitter, “It wasn’t until relatively recently @ChsWineandFood had more than a handful of Black food professionals who were actually from Charleston at the events.” She wasn’t enthused by the move. “I think it’s going over everyone’s heads that Charleston Wine and Food never said they were gonna cancel the event, just move it. If they were serious and wanted to shake shit up, they could have took a stance and not held the festival at all unless the memorials were removed,” she writes.