Jeffrey Collins, Sun News (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina), January 18, 2010
The NAACP will make a stronger push to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse, the president of the civil rights organization said Monday.
Benjamin Jealous wouldn’t go into details, but said by the summer the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People would bring more publicity to its economic boycott of South Carolina. The campaign calls for blacks to not vacation in the state and spend as little money as they can within its borders.
Jealous was in South Carolina to speak at a rally by the state’s NAACP chapter honoring Martin Luther King Jr.
While speakers also discussed education and health care, the rally in South Carolina continues to be entwined with the Confederate flag, which slowly waved in a slight breeze on a 30-foot pole on the front lawn of the Capitol.
It was moved from its perch atop the Capitol dome after the NAACP began holding rallies on the King holiday to protest the flag. For the first rally in 2000, some 50,000 people jammed Statehouse grounds to demand the flag be taken down. The flag was moved months later.
For 40 years, the flag had flown below U.S. and state flags. Supporters said it commemorated the state’s valiant fight in the Civil War, while detractors said it was a thumb in the eye of the civil rights movement.
The NAACP didn’t support the compromise that displays the flag beside one of Columbia’s busiest streets, but there has been little effort to revisit the issue. Jealous hopes to change that in the next few years.
“Dr. King knew it was put there as an act of intimidation and hatred. Moving it from right up top to smack in front doesn’t change things,” Jealous said. “In some ways it worsens the problem. You stand there and look at that flag and see how big it is to you and you look up at the American flag and see how small it is.”