Macon mayor responds to Dodge County confederate flag controversy
June 21, 2011
Macon Political Buzz Examiner
On Monday, June 20th, Macon mayor Robert Reichert –according to his spokesman Clay Murphey—plans to talk more extensively about his views in regard to the Confederate flag controversy in Dodge County.
Reichert is running for re-election as Macon mayor and the Macon-Bibb branch of the NAACP wanted to hear his response in regard to the Confederate flag being flown at the Dodge County Courthouse.
Reichert, who is white, won the mayoral race in 2007 while recieiving considerable African-American support in a city that is 65.6% African-American. So 2 of 3 Macon residents are African-American.
Reichert is running against three African-American challengers in the July 19th primary– former two-term mayor C.Jack Ellis, former state Senator Robert Brown and former Bibb County firefighter Paul Bronson.
Even though, Dodge County and its county seat—Eastman—are approximately 60 miles southeast of Macon, it may be viewed as relevant because Dodge County is a part of Central Georgia. Additionally, Macon is still the largest population center in the region, so whatever happens in smaller rural areas has an indirect impact on the area as a whole.
One of three Dodge County citizens is African-American and approximately 40 percent of Dodge County’s largest city –Eastman—is African-American.
In comparison, Bibb County is exponentially larger with approximately 150,000 citizens and has recently become a majority-minority county for the first time (52%).
In Macon and Bibb County , it is not likely a Confederate flag will ever be put outside the Bibb County Courthouse in defiance of its African-American citizens. However, in an election year, it is important for candidates to be responsive to questions from the community.
The Georgia NAACP has been very active in protesting the decision of the Dodge County Commission and I believe wants to send a message that this display of contempt isn’t appropriate in Dodge County or anywhere in the state of Georgia.
Could a Confederate flag controversy happen in nearby Crawford County (Roberta), Twiggs County (Jeffersonville) or Pulaski County (Hawkinsville)? It is conceivable, and could embolden local officials who may be eyeing what is happening in Dodge County
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According to Murphey, Reichert says the flag is appropriate in some places such as a Confederate cemetery. However, the confederate flag isn’t appropriate in front of the local courthouse where the whole community does its business.
Right now, Dodge County‘s defiance and contempt is problematic and sad, because it shows the members of the Dodge County Commission wants to turn back the clock instead of looking to the future.
Dodge County Commission Chairman Dan McCranie is embracing the pending legal fight over the Confederate emblem being displayed at the Courthouse as if he and others are trying to re-enact the Civil War and the Jim Crow era.
Note: During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, State Senators Jefferson Lee Davis and Willis Harden introduced Senate Bill No. 98 to change the state flag design. The 1956 flag design specified the same blue canton as defined in 1902, stamped with the Great Seal of the State of Georgia, similar to the flag that flew from some time in the 1920s. The Confederate Battle Flag was incorporated as the flag’s field. House Bill No. 98 was signed into law by Governor Marvin Griffin on February 13, 1956, effective July 1, 1956
The NAACP and progressives of all races are willing to fight the decisions in court and also at the ballot box.
The NAACP has gone on record and said if local citizens want to fly the Confederate flag on their private property or at their local business is fine, but in front of the Courthouse crosses the line.
“This is public property; don’t impose it on individuals,” said John Battle, head of Dodge County’s NAACP chapter.
“Look at the lynchings and beatings and how they used that flag as a scare tactic,” he said, standing by a century-old Confederate monument. This is 2011, we shouldn’t be at this point.”
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