Parents protest school actions against Confederate symbols

By: Laura Cassels
3/15/2001

CAIRO – Waving Confederate battle flags, scores of Grady County parents staged a protest Tuesday at a meeting of the Grady County Board of Education to complain that students were not allowed to wear T-shirts bearing Confederate symbols at school.

Kim Harrison told the school board more than 50 students wearing Dixie Outfitters T-shirts at Cairo High School and Washington Middle School were ordered to change shirts. She said the shirts do not violate school dress codes on decency and that forcing students not to wear them violated their right to free speech.

Kirk D. Lyons of Black Mountain, N.C., with the Southern Legal Resource Center, Said he was summoned to represent 10 families "concerned about the ban on Confederate symbols at those schools." He urged the board to overturn the decision by school administrators.

"To ban a venerated symbol that is important to their people and culture is discrimination." Lyons Said. He said the students wore the shirts "for very honorable reasons… pride in their heritage…and not to show any disrespect for any other group."

He said that if anyone was offended by the shirts, "Let’s get them educated. They need to learn to live in a multicultural society."

Cindy Meadows said she saw nothing offensive in the shirt her daughter wore to school.

"She was told not to come back to school with it on," Meadows said. "We’re not offensive, racist or hate people….I don’t want slaves."

Only school-board member Tyler Maxwell responded to the complaints.