Posted on October 6, 2004

Confederate Flag Removed Ahead Of NAACP Event

AP, Myrtle Beach Online, Oct. 5

COLUMBIA — The S.C. conference of the NAACP succeeded in getting a Confederate flag removed from a popular Augusta park as the group prepared to hold its state convention in Georgia this week.

The state NAACP has held annual conferences in North Carolina and Georgia since launching economic sanctions in 2000 aimed at removing the Confederate flag from South Carolina’s Statehouse grounds.

While legislators removed the banner from the Capitol dome and House and Senate chambers, they put a similar flag at a monument to Confederate soldiers on the grounds.

Confederate flag supporters say they may sue to have the banner put back up at Riverwalk Augusta, next to the convention site.

Augusta Mayor Bob Young said he removed the flag from one of the most popular tourist spots in Augusta after talking with Charles Smith, president of the Augusta chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and others.

The flag issue came up as the S.C. NAACP researched sites for its convention.

“We had discussions about it and inquired about who had authority to remove it,” said Dwight James, executive director of the S.C. NAACP. “We expressed some concerns to the Augusta branch . . . and they took the initiative.”

The NAACP could be the target of pro-flag demonstrations.

“We’re thinking about it,” said Woody Highsmith of Evans, Ga., a member of the Military Order of the Stars and Bars, a group of descendants of Confederate Civil War officers.

Highsmith and members of various Confederate heritage groups are incensed that the group will meet in Augusta. Up to 300 people may protest the NAACP meeting at the Riverfront Hotel, Highsmith said.

“The NAACP knew a year ago they were meeting at the Radisson, but they waited until now to force this issue,” he said.

Heritage group members plan to go before the Augusta-Richmond County Commission to demand the Confederate flag be reinstated at Riverwalk. “If they don’t,” Highsmith said, “we’ll sue.”