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. Jmarie, California

    With all that is going in with our economy, you would think a politician from So. Carolina would be more interested in focusing his energies and making his priority of fighting to help bring jobs to the people who elected him and do more to help their economy. Rather than fighting to uphold an "ugly" part of American history that no one wants to remember, or for that matter, should be ashamed of; except those who uphold "racism and slavery". This should provide insight into what his true agenda really is all about, and it's not about what the people elected him to do. Sad.

    September 23, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  2. Bush's "Suck"cess: My Pet Goat, Mission Accomplished & Heckuva Job Brownie

    And the token Michael Steele continues to be baffled about the G"no"P being unattractive to people of color. Who's disconnected from the public?!

    September 23, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  3. down stroke

    You guys in SC need to get with the times. It is 2000, not 1940 50 or 60. The Confederate flag must be removed and it is offensive. I don't even want it near me or waived. It is an insult to this country and unpatriotic.

    September 23, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  4. nathan smith ga

    this is joe you lie wilsons state but thier not racist....... yeah right! its pitiful that flag must be burned.

    September 23, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  5. shmeckel

    Granted white racists do embrace the Confederate flag which I find humiliating and embarrassing. However, for most in the south it represents a way of life, having manors, being involved with religion, working hard, doing for yourself, not asking for hand outs, and being held accountable for your actions.

    The largest (by far) steps toward equality have been made by whites. It would go a long way to see the NAACP hold blacks accountable for their actions, demand hard work, and condone bad behavior. Instead they choose to sit back and point the blame at whites, and make excuses for those who continue to mess up. I am afraid that until that happens we will not get any closer to equally. If the leaders of the black communities allow the stereotypes to be their majorities, then how can you expect another race to ignore the stereotype?

    September 23, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  6. D. Tree

    I don't mean to sound insensitive, but people in the South need to stop all this idolizing of the Rebel Flag

    The rebel flag is a symbol of secessionists, who shed blood to preserve the sin of slavery.

    Such symbols should not be revered, even if your great-grandfathers fought for what it stood for!

    September 23, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  7. ronie patrick

    Why are we still dealing with this foolishness. Forget that fool and move on to other important issues that is in South Carolina.

    September 23, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  8. Informed voter

    The Confedrate flag represents bigotry, hatred, ignorance, and divisiveness. If South Carolina continues to proudly fly this symbol of intolorance, then the rest of the country and the world will see their "true colors."

    September 23, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  9. Deb (long island)

    That flag represents evil. It represents the abuse and embarrassment and degradation the black slaves suffered at the hands of their white superior "masters". If that flag represents South Carolina then perhaps the folks from South Carolina better take a long hard look at who they have in office.

    September 23, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  10. Chris - MN

    I completely support the small-tent approach to politics, when it's being espoused by the GOP.

    September 23, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  11. Pepou

    This flag is ABJECT and should be burned. It represents an awful period of our history that we should not be proud of.

    September 23, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  12. yougottabekidding

    Until the GOP can prove to the American people that they are not racist...You don't need history books to see through their bigotry!

    September 23, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  13. D. Tree

    Hey anyone who thinks the Civil war was "mostly about economics" is right: and what was that "economy" based on? Slavery.

    Its doesn't take a diploma to understand good and bad morals. Just because the South made money from it, you think Slavery wasn't a sin!

    September 23, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  14. RanDe from SoCal

    In order to help preserve our history It's time for a moratorium on things the past that the majority of people are okay with. So many things are not allowed these days because a small minority has a problem with it. People need to look at the bigger picture. Just wait till something you love or respect is not allowed because it offends one or two people. If you wait too long it may be too late to change

    September 23, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  15. Chris - MN

    I'll acknowledge that slavery was only one aspect of the civil war. Kind of like a few employees in a large organization like ACORN don't represent the entire organization.

    September 23, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  16. Joe

    The confederate flag is a symbol of the Confederate states of America. It was the treasonous government that was set up when South Carolina Seceeded from the Union thus spurring the Civil War.

    This flag does not represent, Higher Standards, Morals, Religion. It stands for a time when our country was divided and driven into war with ourselves. IT needs to be removed. Period.

    On the other hand the Flag of the Lone star Republic of Texas was adopted as the state flag of the country. It was a reminder that Texas broke away from Mexico (much in the way the south did from the US) but was able to keep its flag under statehood.

    I mean maybe we should fly the Union Jack over the Whitehouse since we were, at one point, English Subjects.

    September 23, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  17. Concerned

    I'd love to have the NAACP boycott my state... Is that all it takes? Get out the Confederate Flag!

    September 23, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  18. yougottabekidding

    A flag that means civil war/ economics to one group of people and slavery, exploitation, murder and rape to another group of people. Yet, the GOP claims that they are not racist! Give me a freaking break!

    September 23, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  19. HarryB

    As a friend of mine used to say, "The South will rise Again!

    "Probably true. It can't get any lower.

    September 23, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  20. Retired US Army Officer-Kansas

    The Confederate Flag was the symbol of rebellion against the United States. That rebellion was put down, but for some reason we still permit the opened display of wanton disrepect to our nation rendered by the Confederate Flag. The Confederate Flag does not represent anything good or pure it represents a time of armed rebellion and should not be flown by any state or local government. As far as being offensive to any one group of Americans, I find the flag that my great grand fathers fought against offensive regardless of color or ethinic background, no other nation in the world would tolerate the display of a flag that represents opened armed rebellon against the government.

    September 23, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  21. DonnaLee

    Any viewer of a political or cultural symbol is free to assign it any range of meanings ... be it good bad or whatever.

    This is a free country ... no matter how divided we continue to be.

    God bless America ... Down with the Confederacy.

    September 23, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  22. ch

    This "flag" should not only be removed – it should be ripped to shreds, bruned and buried.

    Enough is enough – the people and politicans of SC need to come to terms with reality.

    September 23, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  23. Keith in CA

    ...and the GOP continues to reach out to African American voters.

    September 23, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  24. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    South Carolina has now officially passed Florida as the dumbest, most clueless state in the Union. And to all of those apologists saying the Stars and Bars represents states' rights, the biggest 'right' the South was fighting for was the right to consider black people property and treat them as work animals. To claim there is nothing 'racist' involved is either willful ignorance or plain stupidity on your part – possibly both.

    September 23, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  25. Mic

    The confederate flag represents part of our past. This part of our history, and I understand how the present people in goverment want us to forget about the history of the united states. I'm in a interacial marriage, and my wife and I agree this flag should always fly. Because my wife and I understand that it doesn't represent racisim. That when the stars and bars flyed in it's time. It repesented freedom.

    IT SHOULD ALWAYS FLY IN THE BATTLEFIELDS WHERE SOLIDERS DIED FOR THE FREEDOM THEY VALUED SO MUCH.

    September 23, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
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