COLUMBIA—The NAACP expressed outrage Saturday over Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt’s order to fly the Confederate flag over a state historic site, and asked the public to rally against it.
Blunt ordered the flag flown today, for one day only, at the Confederate Memorial State Historic Site near Higginsville in honor of Confederate Memorial Day.
The order came after Rep. Mike McGhee, an Odessa Republican, made the request on behalf of local residents.
Mary Ratliff, the president of the Missouri State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said she had already written the governor to ask him to reconsider.
“We were very much surprised and hurt and appalled,” Ratliff said during a break from the group’s regularly scheduled meeting Saturday in Columbia.
The Rev. Gill Ford, NAACP Region IV director, acknowledged that individuals have the right to free speech, but spoke against Blunt’s action.
“The reality is that when government becomes involved, then you get an endorsement,” Ford said.
He called the Confederate flag a symbol of hatred and terror.
McGhee said Saturday that he asked the governor to lift a two-year-old ban on flying the flag after receiving a request from residents in Higginsville.
“It’s not a racist thing,” McGhee said. “Those soldiers died for that flag. They earned it, whether you agree with their cause or you don’t agree with their cause.”