Assembly Backs Singleton Measure Condemning Use of the Confederate Flag
The General Assembly on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Troy Singleton condemning the official use of the Confederate flag and urging any states that still support the image to officially do away with all references to it.
Singleton's resolutio (AR-255), approved by a vote of 72-0-1, was inspired by the brutal murder of nine black Charleston churchgoers by a young man inspired by white supremacist ideology. With images surfacing of the shooter brandishing the flag and displaying it on the car he drove and the clothing he wore, a controversy has reignited over the proper place for the Confederate flag in contemporary American society.
"While defenders of the Confederate flag see it as a symbol of the South's heritage and pride, many others see it as a heinous symbol of the racial hatred and prejudice that are a part of that history," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "In this day and age, it should be viewed as an unacceptable expression of support for intolerance, racial hatred, and bigotry, all things that should have no place in modern American society."
Singleton noted that the official state flags of seven southern states - Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee - contain elements and imagery in their that echo the Confederate flag.
According to the 2010 Census, these seven states were home to 60 million Americans, including 12 million African Americans.
"Essentially, one-third of the nation's black population lives under a state flag that evokes the Confederacy and its legacy of racial hatred and oppression. It's long overdue time that we officially divorce ourselves from that legacy," added Singleton.
Singleton noted that outrage stemming from the murders in Charleston has prompted the governor of South Carolina and prominent federal and state legislators in that state to demand the removal of the Confederate flag from statehouse grounds as soon as possible. In Mississippi, legislators from both political parties have called for the removal of the Confederate emblem from the state's flag; in Tennessee, there is a bipartisan push to remove Confederate symbols from the statehouse; and the governors of Alabama and Mississippi have called for the removal of or changes in their states' flags.
"Just as I applaud my colleagues for standing in solidarity today to condemn this shameful legacy, I also want to applaud all of the elected officials from both sides of the aisle who have joined together in their own states to call for an end, once and for all, to this sorry chapter in our history," added Singleton.
In unanimously supporting the resolution, the General Assembly joined together to officially "express its shock and outrage at the racist-inspired murder of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, and to add its voice in condemning the continued official use of the Confederate flag in South Carolina and in the flags of seven other southern states."
Copies of the resolution will now be filed with the Secretary of State and transmitted to the governors of South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee and to the members of the legislature of each of these states.