Rebel Flag Stance Could Diminish Competitiveness
NAACP Warns Athletes Away
GREENVILLE, S.C. — The state NAACP is increasing the pressure on South Carolina to remove the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse dome by encouraging Black student athletes to stay away from state colleges and universities.
“We think a number of them would support us and would rather be somewhere else than continue to see that flag fly,” says James Gallman of Aiken, state NAACP president.
Clemson athletic director Bobby Robinson says he was unaware of the move and would not speculate on its impact. “You’re telling me something for the first time,” he said. “I’ve not heard it, so I wouldn’t even want to comment on that.”
University of South Carolina athletic department spokesman Kerry Tharp also said he hadn’t heard about the stepped up boycott. Head football coach Lou Holtz has said he thinks the flag should come down.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has called for a tourism boycott of South Carolina to take effect Jan. 1. The civil rights organization has said it will continue the boycott until legislators remove the Confederate flag from the Statehouse.
State NAACP Planning and Research Committee Chairman Lonnie Randolph says his committee put the athlete program into effect.
“We’re not telling them where to go or not go,” he says. “But we are giving them information about those institutions they are interested in, the entire spectrum of what they can expect when they get there and how the community feels about those institutions.”
South Carolina is the only state to fly the Confederate flag atop its Statehouse, although the state flags of Georgia and Mississippi incorporate the controversial banner in their design.
However, in Clemson University’s hometown, the City Council voted unanimously early this month to adopt a resolution that calls for the flag’s removal.
About a half dozen local governments and business groups have passed similar resolutions, and the Spartanburg City Council is also considering a resolution later this month. Columbia Mayor Bob Coble and Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr., both Democrats, have proposed a compromise plan to move the flag to a memorial on Statehouse grounds.
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