South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s call to remove the confederate flag from the state capitol is a welcomed and long overdue act of responsive leadership that is much needed in the Palmetto State. The NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) has long voiced its opposition to the flag’s use on state property as it represents a symbol of white supremacy, hate, and terror. The confederate flag’s racist symbolism dates back to the Civil War and resurfaced in South Carolina in the early 1960’s in response to civil rights developments in the South. It has also been used by individuals and groups for intimidation and violence.
“The recent images of the confessed killer Dylann Roof draped in imagery of the confederate flag, both in person and on his vehicle, demonstrate the dangerous message sent when the flag is displayed as the backdrop of our nation’s public institutions,” said LDF President & Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill. “We can no longer deny the impact that the confederate flag has in promulgating hate and extremism directed at African-Americans. This flag should never be visible in public spaces that are supposed to represent all citizens of South Carolina.”
Despite years of discord over whether the flag should be flown at the state capitol, last week’s tragic massacre of nine African-American men and women at the historic Emanuel A.M.E. church in Charleston has brought renewed focus to the connections between the confederate flag and racial violence. LDF is especially pleased that the decision by Governor Haley has cut across party lines. Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham has also recently called for the removal of the flag as did Republican State Senator Tim Scott. Governor Haley stated that she would use her authority to call a special session of the legislature later this summer, if necessary to implement her decision.
Ultimately, Governor Haley’s decision is a culmination of the steadfast work of civil rights groups and activists to remove the flag as a state symbol. Leaders like Rep. Jim Clyburn, the South Carolina NAACP, and others have led decades-long efforts to remove the Confederate flag from public spaces, including sponsoring a boycott honored by tourists, private industry and sports teams. Yesterday’s developments must include recognition of the State Branch’s tireless efforts and tremendous resolve.
“Governor Haley has taken the first step to remove the symbol of hate, but the real work must begin in the legislature,” said Janai Nelson, LDF Assistant Director-Counsel. I hope that other members of South Carolina’s government will take action to remove this inflammatory symbol.”
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is not a part of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) although LDF was founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. Since 1957, LDF has been a completely separate organization. Please refer to us in all media attributions as the “NAACP Legal Defense Fund” or “LDF”.