The Rock Hill and Western York County branches of the NAACP have denounced York Technical College’s decision to host the state Sons of Confederate Veterans convention in March because of the divisiveness of the Confederate flag.
One NAACP leader said it appears likely that there will be protests against the decision to host a group that claims the Confederate cause that supported slavery was just and that uses the Confederate flag that many people see as a symbol of slavery, hate, bigotry and violence.
NAACP leaders are seeking out business leaders and others to stand united against the Confederate Flag.
However, the NAACP did not go so far as to ask York Tech to cancel its contract.
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The Herald published an exclusive story Sunday which reported that the school supported by tax dollars had entered into a deal with the group that uses the Confederate flag as its banner.
After the story was published, the chapter president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) issued a statement Tuesday morning saying that while the NAACP embraces the group’s right to free speech, it questions the school’s decision to allow the group that celebrates “division” on campus.
The statement from Dr. Jacques Days, a medical doctor and pastor at Adams Chapel AME Church, reads:
“Convention celebrating the Confederacy - York Tech campus
The Rock Hill Branch of the NAACP obviously embraces the First Amendment right of peaceful assembly and freedom of speech. However, we also uphold, and indeed encourage, the right of York Tech and any well-meaning institution to decline business arrangements with groups that celebrate divisive choices and painful periods in our nation's history. To evaluate historical choices for academic reasons is one thing but to offer a venue for financial reasons in order to celebrate division is all together different.
President, Rock Hill NAACP.”
Steve Love, a leader with both the Western York County and South Carolina NAACP, also condemned the decision by York Tech to host the group and said that the western York County chapter joins Rock Hill against York Tech hosting the event.
Black leaders are forming a coalition with business leaders and others to let York Tech know that while the convention is not illegal, many people oppose it and the Confederate Flag does not represent any heritage that black people want to celebrate.
“This group uses the flag as a recruiting tool,” Love said. “That is not what York County needs or wants.”
York Tech leaders could not be reached for comment Tuesday morning.
South Carolina dropped the Confederate Flag from the Statehouse grounds in 2015 after nine blacks in Charleston were killed by an alleged white supremacist and Confederate Flag booster who allegedly wanted to start a race war.
The NAACP is made up of people of all races. Brother David Boone, treasurer of the NAACP in Rock Hill and a lifelong advocate for equal rights for all people and protester against segregation, said that he agrees that the Sons of Confederate Veterans have a right to fly the flag, but people also have the right to not like the flag or York Tech’s decision.
Boone said he expects that individuals and groups likely will protest at the convention.
“People can protest against it and yes, I would expect that they would,” Boone said Tuesday. “That flag is not my heritage.”
York Tech’s student body is about one quarter black.
The NAACP has also rented space at the Baxter Hood Center in past years for its Freedom Fund banquet. Political candidates of both parties have also often rented space for events.
York Tech administrators told The Herald that top administrators were not aware of the contract until The Herald made them aware, but the Sons of Confederate Veterans group has a right to free speech and assembly.
People on all sides - black leaders, the college vice president, even the Sons of Confederate Veterans - acknowledged to The Herald that the Confederate Flag brings a potential for controversy.
However, the Confederate vets’ group leadership told The Herald that they are proud of their heritage and don’t understand why anyone would question the decision to host them.