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. No Incumbents 2010

    Racist symbols belong in history musuems, not on public display as symbols for the present time. Only a true racist would fight to preserve the public display of racist symbols. South Carolina has already lost millions in convention dollars due to the insistence on displaying the conferderate flag. Imagine if people in Germany wanted to fly the Nazi flag.

    September 23, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  2. Kelby In Houston, Texas

    Ya see you guys are all up on South Carolina cuz they are the flavor of the month. I'M FROM TEXAS!!!
    Our type o crazy has been around so long the nation isn't even impressed anymore....
    The word seccession is tossed around here so much they think we ALL want to leave the union. We have guns and dead criminals out the yang! South Carolina can't beat that.
    WE HAVE AN ALL WHITE TOWN CALLED VIDOR, TX!
    Oh yeah, South Carolina is crazy and stupid, BUT THEY AIN'T GOT NOTHIN ON TEXAS!

    Dear God, help me to turn TEXAS blue

    September 23, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  3. Buddy Gilmour

    South Carolina and the GOP are in a race to the bottom.

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

    Funny that the NAACP is portrayed as one of the good guys in this story when they, by definition, are a racist organization themselves.

    September 23, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  5. Chad

    The fact that we're having this debate in 21st century America is ridiculous. The flag, first erected on the state capital in the 1960's, does represent some other things besides slavery. However, one can argue that the Nazi flag did not only represent the holocaust – it's just that that is what it is mainly associated with. The confederate flag DOES NOT stand for state's rights. Each state has its own flag that represents their rights. The confederate flag stands for racism. I'm sorry, but anyone who argues otherwise is being dishonest.
    How does an African American in SC feel when he sees that flag flying on the state capital. He/she says "oh, that's the symbol for those who wanted to keep me in chains." It's not right.

    September 23, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  6. Proud Member..Party of No

    It'll be a moot point soon after the democrats do away with all state independence and make the hammer and sickle the official flag of the People's Republik.

    September 23, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  7. AntiRush

    And yet, Jimmy Carter was wrong. I want to write more about this, but I just finished watching an interview on TV with this Trafficant dude, and now I have to take a shower. It may take a while to feel clean again.

    September 23, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  8. Darth Vadik, CA

    How about this, put the flag on your own darn lawns, houses and cars. Not state buildings and courts.

    If you are proud of slavery, racism, and bigotry, go right on ahead (but of course that is not what the flag stands for – WELL OF COURSE IT DOES), BUT DONT INVOLVE YOUR STATE IN IT.

    September 23, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  9. Jason

    And these are very likely the same people who were screaming that the Obamas were "unpatriotic" for not wearing a flag pin........

    September 23, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  10. Fact Check The Message Boards

    "Concerned" with the unintentional win*

    *in this case "win" represents "fail" on a global scale, but a win for the willfully ignorant.

    September 23, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  11. Becky

    How can they honor confederate traitors? Its not about racism its about the deaths of 100's of thousands Americans all because Southerners are greedy and lazy....They still are.

    September 23, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  12. Lisa P

    Truly despicable, but no surprise from the traitorous GOP. The secessionists couldn't accept an election result either - so much for American democracy when it conflicts with conservative self-interest or self-delusion! "Patriots"? Hah!

    September 23, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  13. Willie B., USA

    To Me Being a United States Military Veteran Flying the Confederate Flag is the same as Flying Flags of Japan, Vietnam , Korean, Nazi, British or any other so called nation that the United States has Engaged in war and being that South Carolina is responsible for starting the Civil War causing the greatest loss of life in our history and is proud of that heritage ‘It is what it Is’.

    September 23, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  14. Jack

    Since when does the NAACP dictate state policy. Way to go STARS and BARS.

    September 23, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  15. Randy, San Francisco

    This is exactly why the GOP southern strategy is wrong. Do they teach the kids in South Carolina who won the Civil War? The South didn;t become a bastion of GOP support until after the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s.

    September 23, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  16. sarah in virginia

    If people would actually read ALL of history and not just what schools decide to teach, then perhaps people would understand that it is called the Rebel Flag for a reason. The south wasn't responding to the north telling them to stop slavery, they were responding to the federal government telling them how to govern their own states and industries. Was slavery a part of that industry, yes, but anyone who thinks it was the only industry at question is ignorant. The flag represents states rights to govern themselves and not be at the beck and call of the federal government. Its not the south that needs to get over anything; its those that can't get it through their heads that the war and slavery have long been over, and maybe, just maybe they should stop trying to fight that.

    September 23, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  17. GOP Racists

    South Carolina:

    Republican Governor.
    2 Republican Senators.
    4 out of 6 Congressmen are Republican.

    1 RACIST FLAG.

    September 23, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  18. Ken from missouri

    I went to myrtle beach this year for vacation and I could not believe that
    the flag of racism was for sale in a beach shop, this should tell you what's wrong with that state and then you look at their represenatives in congress and the republican party they belong to and say no wonder their racist their state wouldn't elect them if they wasn't!!!

    September 23, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  19. Kelvin

    The good people of South Carolina ought to be outraged and embarrassed about this whole mess. Do you want these guys as you governor? Some of the Republicans "get it" while the others are "stuck on stupid". In these hard economic times, I do not believe you want anyone boycotting your state economically.

    I know where NOT to spend what little money I have.

    Kelvin.
    From the Bankrupt state of California

    September 23, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  20. Big Ed

    Well, there you have it. The home of Joe Wilson and DeMint. Republicans of a feather flock together. It's a shame. These neo-con reprabates make our country look bad in the eyes of not only the people of the United States, but also the world. Nice example to set for the young people (insert sarcasm here).

    September 23, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  21. saftgek

    There is and always should be a place in our society for the Confederate flag. That place is in museums, to ever remind us of the single most disgusting time in our country's history.

    This flag should NEVER be displayed on any other property. I am aware that, for thousands upon thousands of Southern residents, the Civil War has not ended. In my business travels, I continue to observe rampant racism and elitism. Ignorance, stubbornness, et al, are likely foundation blocks of this anti-social "values."

    I believe the Confederate flag is displayed on public property to pander to the aforementioned group of "The South Will Rise Again" believers and promoters.

    Sad for our country!

    September 23, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  22. adamandkanani

    It's a racist flag and anti-American. It is the flag that hoped to destroy the united states. It should be removed.

    September 23, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  23. www.ActBlue.com

    South Carolina should vote DEMOCRATIC in 2010!

    September 23, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  24. Kelvin

    If I hear another male Republican politician talking about family values, his wife better be suspicious.

    Republicans need to stop spouting off "family values" as if they're the only ones who value family. That, to me, sounds like "Fair and Balance" and we all know the truth on that.

    Kelvin

    September 23, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  25. emorep

    The confederate flag may have at one time represented states rights but today, because it is today, and tomorrow and the days to follow, it represents slavery and racism. S. Carolina politicians, and those who voted for them, continue to live in the past and hold on to their bigotry. What a disgusting backwards state.

    September 23, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
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