Flanked by a group of students, alumni and other supporters, the NAACP held a news conference Monday to voice their disapproval of Lieutenant Governor Glenn McConnell’s consideration for the presidency of the College of Charleston. Speaking on the campus grounds, Charleston NAACP Vice President Rev. Nelson Rivers III said McConnell’s advocacy for Confederate commemoration does not represent the progressive mindset the College of Charleston needs.
“You cannot hire someone who diminishes the pain of my ancestors and elevates to honor those who afflicted the pain and expect me to accept that,” Rivers said.”
McConnell is one of three finalists for the post. McConnell once owned a Confederate memorabilia shop and has dressed in Confederate uniforms, during Civil War re-enactment presentations.
Rivers said the board needs to name a progressive leader that understands the need for diversity.
“We urge the board to seriously consider whether they want a president who has created animosity, division, and protests in our state. Do they want to choose that man?”
The NAACP said what McConnell calls heritage is offensive to them.
A College of Charleston alum, McConnell answered his critics saying re-enactments are about history: “I would first state that to my knowledge I have never diminished the pain of those who suffered in slavery. What I have taken a position on is that you are on a slippery slope when you open a quarrel with your past.”
McConnell, who earlier decided not to run for a full term as Lt. Governor, stated that those attacking him are being irresponsible.
“The things that are being spun that I’m trying to glorify slavery, that is so preposterous and such a twist of the truth that it’s just reckless rhetoric,” he retorted.
In another interview with Charleston television station WCSC-TV, McConnell defended his record on diversity. “I’ve helped increase the number of black judges across South Carolina, I was one of the key legislators who got funding for private black colleges out of the lottery funds.”
The other two finalists for the post are Dr. Dennis J. Encarnation, retired international business consultant and faculty member at Harvard University, and Dr. Martha D. Saunders, Provost and Professor at the University of West Florida.
Encarnation is expected to be on the College of Charleston campus Wednesday, McConnell is scheduled to be interviewed Thursday; Saunders will be on campus Friday.