Gratitude and Commendations for the South Carolina State Conference
WHEREAS, South Carolina has long claimed the distinction of being the first state to sign the compact known as the Articles of Secession and the site of the first offensive in 1861 that launched the U.S. Civil War with the aim of preserving the practice of racial subjugation; and
WHEREAS, during and following the Civil War which cost over one million American lives, the Confederate battle flag has been used as a symbol of defiance and to incite violence and terrorism against African Americans and any person who attempted to challenge state-sponsored practices aimed at marginalizing Black people and communities of color; and
WHEREAS, after unsuccessful appeals to the government of South Carolina over many decades to have the Confederate flags posted at the State Capitol removed, through the efforts of the leadership of the South Carolina State Conference, NAACP in 1999, and its special Program and Research Committee a strategic plan was devised to launch a renewed Call to Action that would seek to remove the Confederate flag from all positions denoting sovereignty in South Carolina and challenge the prevailing Confederate mindset that existed in the Legislative and Executive branches of government; and
WHEREAS, in July 1999, a delegation from the South Carolina State Conference traveled to New York City to deliver an emergency resolution to the 90th Annual Convention of the NAACP, calling for the removal of the Confederate flags in South Carolina with provisions to initiate national economic sanctions against South Carolina beginning January 1, 2000; and
WHEREAS, the delegates gave unanimous approval to the emergency resolution, with our colleagues in other states across the Nation, most notably Mississippi, Texas and Alabama having graciously agreed to support a singular national direct action initiative, the Campaign for Dignity, which focused on the government-sanctioned Confederate flags in South Carolina, rather than mounting concurrent campaigns to address the issue in their respective states; and
WHEREAS, the Call to Action generated an immediate international response with event cancellations by national civil rights organizations, religious denominations, and corporations and prompting family reunions, professional associations, social, Masonic, Sport and civic organizations to also strike South Carolina from their list of choice destinations; and
WHEREAS, in response to the NAACP led King Day at the Dome march from historic Zion Baptist Church to the State House on January 17, 2000 which drew more than seventy thousand supporters to mark the largest civil rights demonstration in South Carolina history, and mounting economic and moral pressure, state government, tourism and commerce officials actively promoted the passage of the Heritage Act of 2000, over ardent objections from the NAACP – a law, also known as "the Compromise", which granted the Confederate flag privileged status on the State House grounds and provided certain protections for all Confederate monuments in the State, including streets named to honor Confederate history; and
WHEREAS, the South Carolina State Conference guided a long-running campaign of local protests and intense economic sanctions on tourism, entertainment and collegiate sports that came to an abrupt pause on the fateful night of June 17, 2015 when at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, the very location where the NAACP staged a rally in December 2011 protesting a Confederate Sesquicentennial ball planned at a nearby auditorium, the senseless slaughter of nine innocent Black worshipers took place at the hands of a young gunman who had been weaned on White supremacist doctrine and honor for the Confederate battle flag, thus; and
WHEREAS, moral outrage over the tragic demise of the "Emanuel Nine" coupled with major impending international divestment secured by the NAACP pressed the South Carolina Legislature to quickly modify its extended session to consider Senate Bill 857, that would effectively order what the NAACP, millions of South Carolinians and supporters around the world asked them to do in 2000. The measure passed by an affirmative vote of 37 to 3 in the Senate and 94 to 20 in the House exceeding the required two-thirds majority in both chambers thus clearing the way for ratification by the governor on Thursday, July 9, 2015. The Confederate battle flag and the pole upon which it was hoisted were removed from the State House grounds on Friday, July 10, 2015, destined for a museum.
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Southeast Region and NAACP members around the globe in memorializing the sacrifices of the Emanuel Nine and others across South Carolina whose weary feet traced a path to the State House in South Carolina year after year to insist upon respect for the dignity of all human beings and an equal opportunity accorded to all for full enjoyment of our rights guaranteed under the Constitution of the Unites States of America; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the delegates assembled at the 106th Annual NAACP Convention express gratitude and commendations to the leaders and members of the South Carolina State Conference, NAACP for attending the mission of the Campaign for Dignity in South Carolina over the past sixteen years and achieving a historic and meaningful result for the people of State of South Carolina and everyone across America – a result that expresses finality for a divisive vestige of our past slave and Jim Crow history, and places race relations and human relations squarely at the center of our National conversation.