DAVID A. LIEB
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri’s governor has ordered that the Confederate flag be flown Sunday at a state cemetery where former rebel soldiers were buried, a move denounced by black leaders.
A spokesman for Gov. Matt Blunt said the flag will fly for one day at the Confederate Memorial State Historic Site in Higginsville, where a service is planned to mark Confederate Memorial Day.
But Blunt spokesman Spence Jackson said the Republican governor also supports a scholarly review of whether it would be appropriate to again fly the Confederate flag regularly at the historic site.
Mary Ratliff, president of the Missouri State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was irate when she learned Friday of Blunt’s decision.
"It is just appalling to me that the governor would again raise a flag that is so humiliating and reminds us of the vestige of slavery that has divided our nation for all these years," Ratliff said.
The state NAACP has a regularly scheduled meeting Saturday in Columbia, and Ratliff said she would be "asking for drastic measures from our national office."
Ratliff noted the NAACP has led a 5-year-old boycott of South Carolina because of its display of the Confederate flag on the statehouse grounds.
Confederate flags had flown daily at the Higginsville site and the Fort Davidson State Historic Site in Pilot Knob until they were ordered down in January 2003 by Democratic Gov. Bob Holden’s administration.
Blunt has supported legislation, which failed to come to a vote this year, that would have allowed the state park board to decide whether the Confederate flag should fly over Missouri’s historical gravesites. The bill was strongly opposed by many black lawmakers.
Missouri never joined the Confederacy, but was a divided state during the Civil War, with some residents fighting for the Union and some for the Confederacy.