Controversy raged at a news conference outside of a Virginia museum yesterday when the director of the Danville Museum of Fine Arts & History asked the City Council to remove a confederate flag from a monument outside the museum and move it indoors as part of an exhibit.
Supporters of the flag claimed that it is a part of their heritage and they have a right to be proud of it.
“You need to go back to Africa!” screamed Ed Clark, second lieutenant commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans on Monday in response to the request for the seven-foot flagpole to be moved. “It’s the right thing to do, to keep it up. It’s a piece of history. A lot of things offend me and I don’t sit there and say you need to stop that and take it down and be done with it.”
Rev. Avon Keen, president of the Danville/Pittsylvania County chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference tried to sway supporters of the flag at the conference, saying “the confederate flag has been used by many in acts of hate in the process of hate crimes.”
He then went on to cite the beliefs behind the confederate flag, which were expressed in the 1861 “Cornerstone Speech” by Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens: “Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition.”
“The African- American community has patiently stood by this flying flag here, and now it’s time for it to come down,” Keen said.
Despite Keen’s best efforts there are still people who stand very firmly on both sides of the issue. It is unclear what the city will decide to do with the flag.