Southern Charm : Leva Bonaparte Supports the Removal of Kathryn Dennis' Ancestor's Statue

Jodi Guglielmi
·4 min read

John Valkos/Bravo; Tommy Garcia/Bravo

Leva Bonaparte is doing her part to make a change in Charleston.

On Thursday's episode of Southern Charm, Leva supported an effort to remove the monument of Kathryn Dennis' ancestor, former Vice President John C. Calhoun, from its perch over Marion Square in the South Carolina city.

Calhoun was fiercely pro-slavery and declared as a senator in the 1830s that slavery was not an "evil," but rather a "positive good," according to a Clemson University biography, which also refers to him as an "ardent believer in white supremacy." His Charleston statue was taken down this past June, CNN reported at the time.

"There is a Calhoun statue in the middle of Marion Square park," Leva told Danni Baird over the phone. "It is huge, and it is of John C. Calhoun, obviously an ancestor of Kathryn's. He was vice president two times, but he is known as a person who fought to keep slavery as his last dying wish. That's why Kathryn has a big name. It's Calhoun. He was not a very big person."

"Even a year ago, to say black lives matter — people didn't get it. Now, just to be able to have that conversation and not look so 'radical' is a weight lifted off your shoulders," Leva continued. "I think the statue coming down could really be a moment of healing for our community. It could be a really powerful first step in this particular city."

RELATED: Leva Bonaparte on Being Southern Charm's First Cast Member of Color — 'I'm No Rookie'

Leva invited Danni, 36, to a meeting in the park to support a campaign to take the statue down. But the restaurant owner said she made a point not to extend the invitation to Kathryn, who was currently involved in her own scandal after she was accused of racism for using a monkey emoji when talking to a Black radio show host, Tamika Gadsden.

After attending the emotional event, Leva, Danni and a handful of their friends discussed the potentially history-making day.

"We can criticize every historical monument," said Leva. "But can we remove things that are glorifying enslavement? Yes. That's the black-and-white."

Sean Rayford/Getty

RELATED: 'A Step Forward' — Confederate Monuments Officially Being Removed Across the U.S.

While she didn't expect Kathryn to attend the meeting, Leva was disappointed in her absence.

"When it comes to Kathryn, I've always struggled because I'm like, 'You have this name, you have got to know what a trigger it is,'" she said. "How could you not?"

"If your great-great-grandfather was on a statue in the middle of the park, you would know," she continued. "Kathryn should definitely be here today. To just show up and be like, 'I am related to John C. Calhoun, what he did was not okay, and I'm sorry' — that would have been such a testament to moving forward."

Instead, Leva said Kathryn's response to the statue was that it was "ugly," so she didn't care if it was taken down. "I think she was trying to be funny, but it's not funny," Leva said.

When the subject of the racially insensitive tweet came up, Danni seemed shocked by the Twitter exchange, saying, "That's not the Kathryn I know."

"I haven't talked to her in months," Danni said of where her friendship with Kathryn stood. "This is the time where I would think she would be reaching out to me in need or just wanting a friend, but she completely hasn't."

RELATED: Southern Charm Episodes Temporarily Pulled as Bravo Reviews for Racially Insensitive Content

John Valkos/Tommy Garcia/Bravo

When one of the women predicted that Kathryn would eventually reach out when it "benefits her," Danni was visibly upset. "That offends me! So what, you only use me when you need me?" she said.

Kathryn, 29, previously apologized for the racially insensitive incident, acknowledging that her use of the monkey emoji "was offensive." On the show, Kathryn stood by her claim that sending the emoji was a mistake.

"My friend was having a Trump parade party. I'm not f---ing political, I'm not into Trump, I'm not into anyone. But they were bullying her. This woman was bashing my friend Katie, so I started responding," she said in a confessional. "I don't even remember what I said, but I remember the monkey emoji ended up coming up. She kept hearting every message I sent, just being an a--hole."

"[The monkey emoji] looks funny, it's awkward, and that's my sense of humor," she continued. "Now I'm f---ing apparently racist."

Southern Charm airs Thursday (9 p.m. ET) on Bravo.

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

Campaign Zero works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.

ColorofChange.org tries to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.

National Cares Mentoring Movement provides social and academic support to help Black youth succeed in college and beyond.