NAACP Vows To Push Flag Issue

Local politicians say issue is over
By Andrew Moore (Contact / Staff Bio)
July 16, 2008

The interim president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Dennis Courtland Hayes vowed Monday to refocus his organization’s efforts on removing the Confederate battle flag from Statehouse grounds in Columbia.

The comments came during the NAACP’s national convention in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The civil rights organization has been pushing for the removal of the flag from the Statehouse grounds since not long after it was taken off of the Statehouse dome in 2000. The removal of the flag from the dome came after a long debate in the state’s legislature. A hard-fought compromise resulted in the removal in 2000 after nearly 40 years of flying atop the dome. The flag was placed on Statehouse grounds beside a Confederate soldier monument.

Joel Sawyer, communications director for Gov. Mark Sanford’s office, said the governor considers the matter over.

“Governor Sanford views the flag issue as being settled,” Sawyer said. “I think both sides had to give up something, and both sides got something. We see it as a fair compromise.”

Rep. Bill Sandifer said he too thought the confederate flag issue was over and done with, going on to say that he did not foresee any political energy being expended on the matter.

“During that time, trying to forge some kind of agreement was constantly like aiming at a moving target,” Sandifer said. “ Every time we thought we had an agreement, the NAACP changed their position.”

Sandifer said he did not believe the NAACP’s tourism boycott of the Palmetto State has been effective. Marion Edmonds, spokesman for the South Carolina Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department, told the Associated Press on Monday that while a select few business entities have adhered to the boycott, overall tourism has remained healthy in the state.

Sen. Larry Martin questioned the motives behind the organization’s public announcement of the flag push.

“If it’s not this, it will be something else,” Martin said. “I see this as an opportunity for them to raise membership and contributions to their cause.”

Sandifer also said the move was a publicity stunt, saying the fact that it was an election year probably contributed to their willingness to push the issue further.

Sandifer and Martin both expressed frustration and disappointment over the NAACP’s persistent efforts to beat what they consider a dead horse but aren’t surprised.

“I’m disappointed that they keep raising it as an issue,” Martin said. “They’ve been this way since the beginning, I’m not sure why we should expect them to do anything different. Likewise, I don’t know why they expect us to take a different position. It is not an issue as I see it. We’ve addressed it. The legislation that was enacted in 2000 was intended to resolve it.”

“There is very little appetite in the legislature to open up that argument,” Sandifer added. “I don’t think the majority of the legislature is willing to subject themselves to the intense emotional pressures of going through that argument all over again.”

Gov. Sanford directly asked the NAACP to end their boycott of the state at their South Carolina chapter’s convention in Augusta, Ga. in 2006.

© Copyright 2008 Edwards Group

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