Confederate flag concerns persist in S.C.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Jan. 18, 2010 (United Press International) — The Confederate flag no longer flies from its position atop the South Carolina State House — but its new location isn’t far enough away, activists say.

Raised over the dome of the building in 1962 as a gesture of defiance against desegregation, it was still there for the first annual Martin Luther King Day march and rally 10 years ago, The (Columbia) State reported Monday. Television coverage of that first march and rally of more than 50,000 prodded reluctant South Carolina lawmakers to remove what was seen as an ugly image of the state from national newscasts, the newspaper said.

"The rally reinforced the idea that a broad cross-section of South Carolinians wanted something done about it," said former Gov. Jim Hodges, a Democrat. "That was something missing before, the public aspect."

Legislators agreed to move the flag several months after the 2000 rally. Since then, it has flown from a 30-foot pole near a Confederate monument — still on the State House grounds

Many say they are disappointed the decision to move the flag did not instead put it in a museum or a less visible location.

"The flying of the Confederate flag sends the wrong message," Lonnie Randolph, state president of the NAACP, said. "This was to promote slavery. Us flying the flag on State House grounds says we want to bring those days back. Those days ain’t coming back."

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