Community Conversation: Confederate Flag Prompts Commissioners to Take A Stand
Editor’s Note: Every month, the Capital Outlook will publish a “Community Conversation: We want to Listen” story for the area ‘s residents. Below, is the first installment of those conversations. In light of the article below: What is your opinion? Given the sit-ins and other protests of the 1960s, what is an effective way to take a stance against the presence of the confederate flag in public places? Email your response to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Every year, the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce plans its annual conference allowing representatives from several hundred businesses and organizations to travel to an out-of-town location for networking opportunities and workshops.
This year’s location drew criticism. The Aug. 14-16 conference is being held at the Hilton in Sandestin, Fla., a beautiful location complete with shopping, good restaurants and idyllic white beaches with waves that hug natural sand dunes. According to chamber representatives, the Walton County location recently took action that brought in national attention.
That area’s residents petitioned sitting commissioners to remove the Confederate battle flag from the courthouse lawn. The original flag had an X-shaped design of a confederate flag. Commissioners took down that flag to replace it with the flag of the confederacy known as the “Stars and Bars” complete with 13 stars in a circle.
Since that action in late July, representatives from the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce, Leon County Commissioners, Tallahassee City Commissioners and the NAACP have weighed in on the issue. Chamber representatives recently voted to not have the conference in Walton County in 2016. However, it was too late to halt the conference for 2015.
The latest to voice his concern has been Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum who announced that he would not be attending the annual conference.
In a news release, Gillum said he respected the Chamber’s action. He added that he was not going to Walton County.
In a public statement, Gillum said, “I am a Black man, husband and father to two precious children, who need to look up to their father as an example of moral principled leadership. I am still grieving over my friend and colleague, Rev. Clementa Pinckney of South Carolina’s Emanuel AME Church, having been murdered under the premise of Confederate ideology. I learned from my ancestors at a very early age that if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.”
It was the shooting and killing of Pinckney and eight others in a Charleston, S.C., church that launched the national outrage over the Confederate Flag as accused killer Dylann Roof is seen in a picture on Facebook holding the flag.
Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor was one of the first commissioners to voice concern. He said, “This flag is an obstacle to racial harmony and respect. Leon County dollars should not be invested in a community that embraces racists, segregationist ideals and racial superiority symbols like the Confederate Flag.”
Meanwhile other Black local leaders have shared their disdain with the flag as well. Black representatives, Tallahassee City Commissioner Curtis Richardson and Leon County Commissioner Nick Maddox have also weighed in on the issue.
In a statement, Richardson said, “We can show the world what it looks like when a diverse, inclusive and collaborative All-American City joins together to address pressing local challenges and opportunities. The best of our city will be on display in Walton County’s front yard.”
Richardson will be attending the conference. And, Maddox will also be attending.
“When news of Walton County’s commission reached me, I too was offended by their decision not to remove the Confederate flag from the courthouse. It is a symbol of racial superiority and disrespects all African Americans and fair-minded people,” Maddox said. “While I find the symbol abhorrent, I remain mindful that our community, our chamber, was not a party to Walton County’s decision. I look forward to continuing to make Leon a better place to live for everyone and look forward to showing Walton County what ‘community’ really means.”
What is your opinion? Given the sit-ins and other protests of the 1960’s what is an effective way to take a stance against the presence of the confederate flag in public places?