NAACP wages new effort to bring down Confederate flag
Governor says he won’t get involved
By Tim Smith • STAFF WRITER • September 22, 2008
COLUMBIA — The South Carolina and North Carolina chapters of the NAACP called the Confederate flag that flies on Statehouse grounds here a symbol of evil and terrorism and said Monday they will join in their efforts to remove it.
“As long as this flag blows, it pushes a foul wind of separatism, division and racism that is not contained by the borders of South Carolina,” said the Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP. The two chapters of the organization used the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation to announce new efforts.
North Carolina’s NAACP plans to fight any cooperation between that state and South Carolina in film projects until the flag is removed, Barber said.
Dr. Lonnie Randolph, president of the South Carolina NAACP, said press conferences supporting a boycott of South Carolina were held simultaneously in seven southeastern states.
“This is not a South Carolina issue,” he said. “This is a national issue.”
The battle flag was moved to its current location near the Confederate Soldiers Memorial on the north side of the Statehouse in 2000 as a result of a legislative compromise to take it off the Statehouse dome. The NAACP has protested its location ever since and organized a tourism and travel boycott of the state.
On Monday, Gov. Mark Sanford repeated his previously stated reluctance to get involved in the flag fight.
“That would consume the two years I have left, and I have to stay focused on the things that I originally made pledges to voters on,” he said.
This summer, Randolph revealed the civil rights organization was working with some officials in Hollywood to keep film projects from locating in the state as part of the NAACP’s campaign.
Randolph said Monday that he couldn’t yet disclose who in Hollywood is assisting the NAACP but said the organization planned to announce some “high-profile names” in time for the NAACP’s 100th anniversary early next year.
Both men said they are also working to block collaborative agreements between the two state’s film offices.
“We don’t believe our film industry in North Carolina ought to be doing collaborative work with South Carolina until such time as this flag is removed,” Barber said.
Barber said the battle flag is wrong morally “because it supported the evils of slavery.”
“We wouldn’t allow al-Qaida to fly their flag,” he said. “We wouldn’t allow the Bloods and the Crips to fly their flag. We wouldn’t allow another country to fly its flag. We should not allow that which represents terrorism and secession to be flown.”
Randolph said little progress has been made in the Statehouse on the issue but said change that benefits blacks in the state rarely occurs except as a result of war, constitutional changes, an executive order or the death of someone.
“The Klansmen don’t wear white sheets anymore,” he said. “They wear three-piece suits and carry briefcases. But they do the same damage that they used to.”
Randolph said the state’s 67th annual convention will be held in Charlotte, beginning Oct. 2, the eighth year the NAACP in South Carolina has moved out of state for its convention to observe the flag boycott.