Confederate flag flies outside Danville Museum

The Third Confederate Flag flies proudly on the city-owned grounds of the museum known as the last capitol of the confederacy, and that isn’t going to change any time soon, despite the way some residents feel about it, according to the Danville City Council’s attorney.

Danville’s attorney says that the flag and pole are considered a war memorial and that Virginia Law states no war memorial can be moved. In Danville’s case, he says, the flag and flag pole are part of the memorial. So says the City Council, as well, who voted to keep the flag in place no matter what the cost to the community.

Many people in Danville were hoping it would be taken inside the museum, including the director after the museum board made the request to remove it last month. “The board is disappointed with the city council’s decision, but we’ll continue to honor our history,” said Cara Burton, the director of the museum. She had previously sought permission to move the flag indoors as part of an expanded Civil War Exhibit, preparing for the 150 anniversary of the Confederacy moving to Danville.  “It’s the city council’s decision to fly it. It’s been demonstrated the museum board has no control over it flying,” Burton said.

Thursday night, the City Council and dozens of people from the community debated for nearly two hours. “We’re not asking for it to be on town hall, we’re not asking for it to be on another public building. We’re asking for it to be in a history place where it actually belongs,” said one speaker at the council meeting. (Yep, a “history place.”)

Civil rights leaders and other members of the community say the flag needs to go. The Confederate era doesn’t seem so bygone with the flag flying outside a city-owned building. It wasn’t that laong ago that Rev. Lawrence Campbell was thrown down the stairs at the Municipal Building for daring to sit on the “white” side of the courthouse during the Civil Rights era. His wife was beaten during a peaceful protest march.

“I fought segregation,” Rev. Lawrence Campbell  told GoDanRiver.com. “This flag is polarizing our community … I see it as people glorifying slavery.”

A man named Tommy Bennett also spoke out against the flag, talking about treatment he and his grandmother received 50 years ago, when they were pushed off sidewalks, spit on when his grandmother first went to vote and other indignities. He believes the only flag that should be honored is the American flag.

Officials, however, weren’t moved. They clung tight to the Confederate roots of the building, making it clear that they understand the symbolism behind flying the flag:

Councilman Buddy Rawley twice asked speakers when both sides of the issue could move ahead of events that lasted 150 or 50 years ago, sparking outrage from Marcus Hughes.

“When can we get over it?” Hughes asked. “We can never get over it if we keep experiencing it.”

Rawley and Hughes traded a few more comments, until Mayor Sherman Saunders reminded them to stick to the issue under discussion.

Steve Adkins said the flag is displayed in a historically accurate place, a site that can be viewed as the “end of the Confederacy.” He also suggested that the museum could move if it doesn’t like the flag on its lawn.

“[The building] wasn’t designed to be a museum,” Adkins said. “It’s the last capitol of the Confederacy.”

 

William Avon Keen, President of the Danville Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, believes that hate crime laws could bring it down.  “The citizens of Danville may have a legal claim under the the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America and hate statutes,” he said.

The fight isn’t over.

 

  • Ratcraft

    We fought wars against Germany, Japan, Canada and Mexico. why are those flag still allowed here? Living 100 miles south of Canada I see them at every event, their anthem is sang as well. But no one cares as there is no money to be made off of victimhood.

    • Hypatia Livingston

      I tend to think that those who broke off from the country were traitors.

      Yes, it’s a bit more complex than that — but literally at its core, that’s what civil war is. I’d think we don’t have to fly the flag of those who betrayed America and decided they’d rather leave and fight.

      Those other countries are different entities. They were France and japan before — and after, we went to war with them.

      The Confederacy was never a legitimate government. They were rebels against the US govt.

    • Really? You’ve seen a Rising Sun flag and a swastika flying over the US lately? Because those flags are actually the equivalents you’re reaching for.

      • Ratcraft

        I am not reaching for anything.

    • Jim Powers

      We never fought a war against Canada as it currently constituted. Same goes for Germany, Mexico, and Japan. You’ve never seen a Third Reich or Imperial Japanese (1870-1945) flag honored at any official event. You’ve never heard the Nazi version of the German anthem sung. Your history knowledge is sorely lacking, sir.

      • Ratcraft

        The confederacy doesn’t exist anymore either….. derp.

        • Jim Powers

          No, it doesn’t- thank God. So why, unlike all those other flags we’ve mentioned that are rightfully on the scrapheap of infamous history, are people in this country still honoring that one?

          Derpy derp derp that’s the point. Try again.

          • Ratcraft

            What did you want me to try again? Maybe they honor their past, their ancestors. How does it affect you? Does it make you cry a tear for the war 150 years ago? All that way across the continent before Washington was even part of the country? Oh the sadness must be unbearable.

          • Jim Powers

            I’m from Massachusetts, so I’ve got no idea what you’re babbling about Washington State for.

            This has little to do with honoring the past, and more to do with making sure area blacks know the Good Ol’ Boys still run the show. If it was about history, or anything historical really, they’d listen to the director of their own museum (who, if you read this piece, agrees it’s offensive and wants it moved indoors). The largest single act of treason in American history, a rebellion to keep slavery, is not something that should be honored.

          • Ratcraft

            Maybe it’s to make people cry.

  • It would figure that the Third Confederate Flag would be the one flying. The CSA decided on a white field with a red fly end because they were terribly short on dye, just as they were short of everything at the end. That’s what happens when upstarts holding squirrel guns try to fight an industrial war without any factories.

    • Jim Powers

      Also, the previous one (the “Stainless Banner”) looked like a white flag of surrender when it hung slack on a flagpole.

      • The 2nd Confederate Flag quickly became a joke for that reason.

  • Zero

    Why is it these Southern bumpkins can’t get their heads around the fact that the Confederacy is not something to be proud of?

    If the Germans tried flying a Nazi flag over the site of the Fuhrerbunker, the resulting worldwide Jewish freakout would be a thing to behold. And no one would try to tell them they were overreacting, or that it was a historical monument that needed preservation.

    • Jim Powers

      Because to them, it is. The glorious Lost Cause. Pathetic.

  • Dodie Peterson

    Maybe if history was taught correctly, people would stop focusing on slavery as the reason for the Civil War. The issue of slavery was polarizing but at heart, the union was divided over state’s rights.

    • Jim Powers

      State’s rights to do what exactly?

      Keep people as property.

  • Cuanta

    There is a difference between marveling at the history of a war in our country and flying a flag like we’re proud of the confederacy and all it stood for. This needs to stop.

  • Philli

    Living in Tennessee, one of the most racist states I’ve ever been to, the Confederate flag is a regular sight and an atrocious one like that. Don’t fly it, just hang it up in a museum or something.