NAACP should end its boycott

By Chip Limehouse
Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The recent cancellation of the Atlantic Coast Conference baseball tournament at Myrtle Beach is a sign that we must all work together to move South Carolina forward and there is no better place to start than to immediately end the economic sanctions imposed through the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People boycott. If the NAACP sincerely wants to improve the quality of life for South Carolinians, it will work with us to create jobs and promote economic empowerment.

I have great respect for my Southern heritage. Therefore, supporting the compromise to lower the Confederate flag from the Statehouse was not a decision I made lightly or without reflection. However, it was a decision that I believe needed to be made back in 2000 in order to heal our state. Like many of my legislative colleagues from both political parties, I felt a responsibility to do what was best for our state.

Unfortunately, a vocal minority wishes to continue the Confederate flag controversy even though a prudent compromise was struck nine years ago by leaders acting in good faith. Republicans and Democrats, blacks and whites, conservatives and liberals came together in a meeting of the minds.

It has been well documented by the media that the NAACP’s boycott of South Carolina has cost our state dearly with failed economic development efforts and lost tourism dollars. Our state has missed out on hosting numerous high profile sporting events and conventions as a result of this boycott. While we work to promote industry, jobs and tourism in South Carolina, the NAACP has undermined our efforts at every opportunity; putting its own agenda ahead of the very same citizens it claims to represent and serve. In my opinion, the NAACP boycott is a violation of the worthy legislation we drafted.

For years the flag issue had been a divisive tumultuous force on the state’s political culture, as good people argued over whether the Confederate Battle Flag was a symbol of oppression, or a symbol of a noble and proud Southern heritage. By the late 1990s the business community led by the S.C. Chamber of Commerce asked the state’s leaders to bring down the flag. Although the political climate of the day was very volatile, business, social, political and religious leaders joined forces to end the flag controversy.

Our state’s leaders, including Republican Sen. Glenn McConnell, then-House Speaker David Wilkins, and Democratic African-American senators like Kay Patterson, Robert Ford and Darrell Jackson, worked tirelessly to seek the middle ground to forge a compromise that protected the dignity of Southern heritage, while honoring the wishes of those who wanted the flag removed from the Statehouse dome. The courageous initiative was widely praised at the time.

In the end the flag was lowered from the dome, and placed it at a historically appropriate setting at the Confederate War Memorial on the Statehouse grounds. Other notable accomplishments of the compromise include the first African American Monument in the nation to be erected at a Statehouse, and the permanent protection of historical monuments and markers throughout South Carolina. During that time we also honored the Rev. Martin Luther King and Confederate Memorial Day with state holidays.

In 2009, I believe it is unfortunate that the NAACP continues to promote a self-serving boycott that does nothing but negatively impact the good people of South Carolina. These are hard economic times, and all of us would benefit by increased tourism and economic development. Our tax coffers would benefit greatly from additional tourists who would attend events in Myrtle Beach such as the ACC Baseball tournament which just left or the College Bowl Game that was scheduled for Charleston in 2004, which the NAACP also helped to force out. Every South Carolinian has been affected by the boycott and I call on the NAACP to end it immediately.

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