September 23rd, 2009
04:15 PM ET
5 years ago

Confederate flag again at issue in South Carolina

Rep. Gresham Barrett is one of five GOP candidates for governor in South Carolina.
Rep. Gresham Barrett is one of five GOP candidates for governor in South Carolina.

(CNN) – One of South Carolina's Republican candidates for governor is open to talking with the NAACP about ending its boycott of the state for flying the Confederate flag in front of the Statehouse.

But the candidate - congressman Gresham Barrett - doesn't want the flag removed.

During a debate Tuesday between the five GOP candidates for governor, Barrett answered "yes" when asked if he would consider sitting down with the NAACP to revisit the flag issue and come to some sort of resolution about the boycott, which began in 1999. Barrett was the only candidate asked if he would meet with the group.

But later in the debate, the entire GOP field was asked if the flag should be removed from the Statehouse grounds. All of them, including Barrett, said no.

"I think we have dealt with that issue, and I'm not willing to take a look at it right now," Barrett said.

Barrett spokesman B.J. Boling confirmed that his candidate is willing to meet with state NAACP representatives about ending their boycott. But he stressed that Barrett opposes removing the flag from the Statehouse grounds.

"The congressman feels like this issue has been dealt with in a bipartisan fashion, but he remains open to talking to various groups about the issues that are of concern to them," Boling said. "Saying he's willing to talk to somebody but also saying he thinks the issue has been addressed, I don't see how that's contradictory."

Lonnie Randolph, the president of the South Carolina NAACP, said he would "absolutely" meet with Barrett about the flag if he becomes governor, despite the "wayward and disrespectful views" of all five Republican candidates. Barrett's GOP primary opponents are Attorney General Henry McMaster, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, state Rep. Nikki Haley and state Sen. Larry Grooms.

"I think you learn things by having conversations," Randolph said of a possible sit-down with Barrett. "It's obvious from his positions and his views that he is misinformed. I would be more than happy to share my views with him."

The Confederate battle flag was placed atop the Statehouse dome in 1962, but was removed from the dome in 2000 after a divisive political fight that spilled into national view. The flag was moved to a spot on the Statehouse grounds next to a memorial honoring Confederate soldiers.

But the flag still waves in full view of one of Columbia's main thoroughfares, and the state NAACP has remained vocal. In July, the ACC decided to move its conference baseball tournament from Myrtle Beach to North Carolina after objections from the civil rights group.


Filed under: NAACP • South Carolina
soundoff (82 Responses)
  1. Robin in SC

    No matter how you slice it, South Carolina is full of racists...always has been and always will be. Folks here don't even try to cover it up or disguise it most of the time and when they do make an effort, its so transparent till even children see through it. The flag is historical and shouldn't be abolished as though it never existed, but it certainly shouldn't be flown in a place of honor either. Someone suggested the only right place for the Confederal Flag is in a museum and I agree 100%.

    And, while we're at it, PLEASE someone run for governor besides these clowns...especially Gresham Barrett! Is it not enough that we've got Sanford fornicating in Argentina and Wilson disrespecting the President?

    We're not all idiots...I swear...we're really not!
    Robin in Upstate SC

    September 23, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  2. Thanks but No thanks You betcha! (and also)

    Glad I don't live in South Carolina.

    Racist sentiment or not, that flag does not bring warm fuzzy feelings of a unified "we the people"...

    September 23, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  3. Thaddeus Stevens

    Gresham Barrett, Joe Wilson, Strom Thurmond, Preston Brooks, and John C. Calhoun: All from the great state of South Carolina, first to secede from the Union, first to fire on the federal govt.

    I wouldn't care if SC seceded again, and took the rest of the neo-Confederate Deep South with it.

    September 23, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  4. Jacob

    I am so excited about the prospect of South Carolina turning into a blue state! We will overwhelmingly vote for Democrats in upcoming elections.

    September 23, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  5. Debby

    I agree the flag should come back it is history and its a flag the southerners flew during the civil war with the north not war with the blacks.

    September 23, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  6. OldUncleTom

    Keep the battle flag of your glorious Lost Cause, Carolina.

    Just stop calling yourselves American, will ya?

    After more than 100 years, it is time to make a choice... you can't be citizens and secessionists.

    September 23, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  7. John

    I have lived in SC for 3 years, I am getting out.
    My neighbor has this flag painted on his golf cart, and he is
    a racist, bigot and ignorant. I can't tell you they all are, but I know this one is.

    September 23, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
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