Five years after the removal of the Confederate flag on South Carolina statehouse grounds, two groups of demonstrators, one against the flag and one for it, rallied at the site. Calling the mourning of the flag’s removal “crazy,” Democratic strategist Antjuan Seawright questioned why the United States doesn’t elevate parts of history “we’re all proud of,” instead of Confederate symbols.
“That flag and some of these statues and names have been used to slap people like me, who look like me, who have the experiences of me, in the face, and I think we have to move on from those places in our history,” Seawright, a CBS News political analyst, said on CBSN Friday.
South Carolina legislators voted to take down the flag in 2015 after nine parishoners at a historic Black church in Charleston were killed by a white supremacist who had taken pictures posing with the flag.
The debate over the flag and statues of Confederate leaders reignited again following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. The next month, NASCAR banned the flag and the Mississippi state legislature voted to redesign its state flag to get rid of the Confederate battle emblem. Several cities across the country have taken down or approved the removal of Confederate statues.
But some Americans, including, have argued that the removal of such symbols amounts to “erasing history.”
Seawright disagrees. “This argument of having statues and things named after people like Ben ‘Pitchfork’ Tillman, who went to the Senate floor advocating for the lynching of Black people — we can go on and on about some of those names,” he said. “Yes, they are part of this country’s history; however, put that history in a museum, let it be viewed by people who choose to do that, not fly or hang or even celebrate — elevate these things. Why don’t we do that with the parts of our history we’re all proud of?”
Seawright said the argument about preserving heritage generates a response from “a certain group of people in this country who do not believe that we should move forward.”
“I think it’s very dangerous for anyone, particularly at the highest levels of this country, to flirt with racism, bigotry and hate. We have to turn down the volume on that and turn up the rhetoric, turn up the lyrics on the things that really bring us together, not the things that divide us,” he said.