The state NAACP annual conference was held in Charlotte over the last four days. The meeting has been held out of South Carolina since the year 2000 as part of the civil rights organization’s sanctions against the state for flying the Confederate flag in front of the statehouse.
Rev. Joe Darby and others approve of that decision. Darby is pastor at Morris Brown AME Church in Charleston, and 1st Vice President of the Charleston NAACP. He previously held that position with the state NAACP.
Darby says the NAACP’s decision is a positive gesture that goes beyond the sanctions.
In a op-ed piece in The State newspaper, Senate leader Glenn McConnell, a Charleston Republican, criticized the ACC(Atlantic Coast Conference) for decisions to sanction South Carolina.
The ACC recently announced a decision to move its 2011-13 baseball championships from Myrtle Beach to North Carolina, saying that the Confederate flag on the Statehouse grounds violates its commitment to diversity and human rights.
Darby’s message to McConnell is that the NAACP sanctions are still on, nine years after the compromise that took the flag off the Statehouse dome.
“I think he insulted a lot of good people when he labeled the NAACP a fringe organization,” said Darby. “It’s a very mainstream organization. And I think he missed the whole point, that tax dollars shouldn’t be used to fly the flag of a non-existent country in a sovereign place, like the front of a public building.”
Darby says the flag doesn’t belong at the Statehouse. “If you want to fly it at your house, that’s fine,” said Darby. “If you want to fly it at your business, that’s even better, because that tells me where not to shop. But when you have to enforce a celebration of heritage, that cheapens heritage.”
Senator McConnell asserts that the ACC folded to pressure from the NAACP, saying that the boycott has been ignored by all fair-minded people. He calls the decision by the ACC an insult to South Carolinians, based on intolerance and ignorance. In his commentary McConnell wrote that ACC Officials must not be aware that North Carolina flies a Confederate flag on its statehouse dome to commemorate historical dates. And he says the NAACP chose to single out South Carolina for a boycott, even though other Southern states do more to celebrate Southern heritage. He points out that Mississippi actually has the Confederate battle flag designed into its state flag, that Georgia has the national flag of the Confederacy in its state flag, and that Alabama flies Confederate flags, including the battle flag, at its State House alongside a Confederate Memorial that is more prominent than South Carolina’s display.
A genealogist working with the New York Times recently discovered that First Lady Michelle Obama’s great-great-great-grandparents were a slave in Georgia known as Melvinia Shields, and an unknown white man. Melvinia originally lived in South Carolina until she was sold in 1850 at the age of six to a Georgia farmer. She gave birth to First Lady Obama’s great-great-grandfather at the age of 15.
Darby says the First Lady’s family line has come a long way: “It’s a reminder that a lot of African Americans and lot who are not African Americans are of mixed race. That’s the blessing of diversity in this country.”