The Confederate Flag Haunts Perry’s Campaign

October 5, 2011

By Charlotte Young

While the historic US civil war may have ended hundreds of years ago, Texas governor and presidential candidate Rick Perry’s battle with racial insensitivity is only beginning. Last weekend he raised eyebrows when the news discovered that the name “Niggerhead” appeared on an old Texas hunting camp his family used to lease. This week, the Associated Press reports that Perry is not only a supporter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, he once opposed a mass movement to remove Confederate symbols in government buildings across the South.

The movement, which took place 11 years ago, was an initiative of the NAACP. At the time Texas’ Supreme Court building proudly displayed two bronze plaques with confederate symbols. Then lieutenant government Perry recommended that the plaques remain where they were as Texans “should never forget our history.”

As with many southern government officials looking to gain local and state votes, Perry has always supported confederate legacy concerns. But when it comes to the national setting, it may be in Perry’s best interest to turn down the civil war pride.  His rival Herman Cain, the only black Republican in the race, is already using the camp situation to cast Perry as racially insensitive.

So what’s the next uncomfortable, racially charged issue heading Perry’s way? Texas will soon decide on whether or not to create a license plate featuring the Confederate flag. The idea was proposed by Perry’s old buddies, the Sons of Confederate Veterans and one of Perry’s appointed state boards will make the decision.

While Perry’s campaign spokesman, Mark Minor, did not respond to the AP’s questioning, Granvel Block, the Texas Division commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans did. Block told the AP that he appreciates Perry’s stance on the Confederate legacy as “honoring your ancestors is something that the Bible teaches.” The organization hopes that the Confederate flag waving license plates will help raise the money needed to pay for markers on the graves of Confederate soldiers.

Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP’s Washington Bureau , told the AP that the NAACP’s fight against “the romanticism around the Old South,” is ongoing.

“It’s a view of history that ignores how racism became a tool to maintain a system of supremacy and dominance,” she said.

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