True Georgia Flag – May Soon Wave Again

By J.J. Johnson
Published 02. 18. 03 at 23:27 Sierra Time

ATLANTA – Some Georgia business leaders are turning yellow over governor’s proposed referendum on whether to bring back the old state flag with its big Confederate emblem.

They’re calling it ‘divisive’.

"In my opinion, the citizens of the state should not be asked to vote on a flag that’s repugnant to a significant portion of the state," Arthur Blank told the Associated Press. Blank is the co-founder of Home Depot and owner of the Atlanta Falcons football team who has just enough money to have little to no respect for the will of the voters.

New Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue, who virtually won the election on a pro-flag referendum said last week that he wants the non-binding vote to be held the same day as the state’s presidential primary in March 2004.

The executive committee of the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau and the officers of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce planned to discuss (read: try to figure out how to kill) the proposal this week. The Georgia Chamber will meet next week to discuss it.

Business executives warned that a controversy over the flag could hurt Atlanta’s chances to host a future Super Bowl, its bid for the future headquarters of the Free Trade Area of the Americas, and anything else the NAACP can throw in their faces.

"In the past, we have been very clear about the fact that we didn’t want to have any flag that would be divisive," Georgia Chamber of Commerce chairman Robert Brown said in Tuesday’s edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Brown has little respect for the will of the people, as they have apparently voted that the current flag was ‘divisive’ enough to cost a governor his seat.

Supporters of the Confederate emblem (including many blacks) say it’s about Southern heritage, while a handful of vocal blacks and others (Dixie Media) say it represents racism and slavery, even though there are no reports of blacks leaving Georgia in droves over the old flag. Recently, black Confederate activist H.K. Edgerton marched over 1300 miles across the South in Support of Confederate Heritage

So much for “divisive”.

The state NAACP has threatened an economic boycott if the state goes back to the proper flag. Although the last NAACP state-wide boycott of South Carolina actually boosted tourism revenue, it’s still used as a threat.

The Georgia Legislature changed the flag two years ago, reducing to a tiny square the big Confederate emblem that was adopted in 1956 in remembrance of the Confederacy

Then-Gov. Roy Barnes, a Democrat, led the fight to get rid of the Confederate emblem which included threats and/or bribes to state legislators. He blamed his loss to Perdue in last fall’s election to anger over the move, especially among rural whites. On January 20, 2001, over 3000 Georgia voters (including blacks) protested at the Georgia State house to keep the flag the way it was. Barnes didn’t listen, thus he’s no longer governor.

The referendum proposed by Perdue would have to be approved by both the Republican-controlled Senate and the Democratic-controlled House. The Legislature could then use the results to decide whether it would consider making a change.

Spurgeon Richardson, president of the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau thinks it’s going to be divisive and think it’s going to hurt his chances to get business. “People don’t want the flag to be an issue when they have a meeting in this state."

The Sierra Times has learned that no black family reunion is under threat of cancellation if the proper flag is restored.

Original Link: http://www.sierratimes.com/03/02/18/arpubga021803.htm

Copyright © 2003, SierraTimes.com