The 106th Annual Convention of the NAACP is underway in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.
On Friday, South Carolina finally took down the Confederate flag. At the opening press conference, Rosyln M. Brock, chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors, said:
What a proud moment it is, not for the state of South Carolina only, but for this republic, the United States of America, when a symbol of hatred and of division and exclusion was brought down. We’re so pleased that the Confederate battle flag has come down from the public spaces and government buildings in the State of South Carolina, but my friends, the issue is much larger than that.
The NAACP was on the forefront of this movement. Some 15 years ago, our South Carolina State Conference instituted an economic boycott of South Carolina. Some followed our lead, many stayed with us, others forgot about us. But the South Carolina State NAACP and the NAACP did not waver. The economic sanctions continue in the state of South Carolina. That sustained energy and momentum, we believe, is what helped, along with the tragic slaying of nine innocent lives to bring down that flag.
But the struggle continues. The Confederate insignia is flying in public spaces and government buildings in Mississippi.
So at the press conference, I asked National Board Vice Chairman Leon W. Russell whether the NAACP will demand that Mississippi redesign its flag. And if it fails to do so, will the NAACP call for a boycott of the Magnolia State? Russell responded:
The Mississippi State Conference will have to call for a boycott of Mississippi. It has already called for a change in the design. We don’t impose on our chapters what they should do in their community. We have a national policy against display of the Confederate flag.
In 1991, the Mississippi NAACP filed a lawsuit to force the state to remove the emblem of hatred. Although the case was dismissed, the chapter has been unwavering in its fight. In the wake of the Charleston church shooting, Conference President Derrick Johnson again called on the state to do the right thing:
We appeal to Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant to recognize the moral urgency for Mississippi to move without delay towards our next phase of progression. It’s time to write the next chapter of our history. Nothing could ever right the wrongs of yesterday, but we can chart a better course for tomorrow and the next generation of Mississippians as we show the world that we are no longer mired to a tradition of intolerance.
Gov. Bryant said, “Mississippians have already had a discussion about the state flag. It was put to a vote, and an overwhelming majority chose to keep the flag.”
NB: The National NAACP passed an “emergency resolution” ending its boycott of South Carolina.