Rev. William J. Barber: “The Confederate war flag belongs in a museum — not over or on our state house or on state-issued license plates. It is a symbol of terror, hatred and treason to America’s ideal.”

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North Carolina NAACP President Rev. William Barber (left).

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 4, 2015

Contact: Tom Wolf, NC NAACP – tom@naacpnc.org or 504-940-4441
 

NC NAACP President Responds to Momentum Behind Removals of Confederate Flag

DURHAM, NC – In the last two weeks, several corporations have decided to discontinue their sales of merchandise bearing the Confederate flag symbol. State governments have also begun to debate the appropriateness of the flag’s placement on public property in the 21st century, 150 years after the Civil War. Reflecting on this new momentum to remove Confederate flags, NC NAACP president Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II has issued the following statement: 

Our position has always been that the Confederate war flag belongs in a museum — not over or on our state house or on state-issued license plates. It is a symbol of terror, hatred and treason to America’s ideal.

Our position, however, is that not only should the flag come down, but we must work together to dismantle racism and structural systems of oppression.  Our society’s commitment to address racism cannot stop with the removal of symbols — however odious they are — but must also include opening the path to upward social mobility for those who are trapped at the bottom due to blocked opportunities and the hoarding of economic resources by a small minority.

In other words, politicians can’t get a pass on addressing systemic policy racism simply because they have reluctantly moved to remove the flag in the wake of the Charleston massacre. Nine lives and the blood of nine of God’s children and all of the blood of the martyrs is too much hurt for a symbolic action, alone, against racism that does not go deeper into structural and systemic change. If we don’t address this, then the flag may come down, but opportunity barriers and racism will still wave over and run through the political terrain of our democracy.

We need to deal with the substance of policies. As long as we pass voter suppression laws, unjust environmental laws, laws that underfund public education and cause re-segregated, high-poverty schools, laws that block Medicaid expansion and a living wage, as long as we promote the racially applied death penalty and a broken criminal justice system, systemic racism still exists and continues to wave its ugly shadow over our body politic.

The work of bringing down racism is not over when we bring down only this flag.

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