NAACP State President Lonnie Randolph said Friday that the state should not celebrate its history of slavery and encouraged participation in a protest of the South Carolina Secession Gala in Charleston.
He issued a call for unity, noting that today is United Nations Human Rights Day.
"Equality, justice and fairness aren't the order of the day. And that's what we're here for. We have to respect the rights and the decency of all human beings," he said.
Randolph decried plans by the Sons of Confederate Veterans to hold a $100-per-person "Secession Ball" on Dec. 20 in Gaillard Municipal Auditorium, 77 Calhoun St. The NAACP plans a candlelight vigil at 4:30 p.m. Dec. 20 at Gaillard Auditorium to protest the Secession Ball.
Informational picketing is planned at select downtown hotels from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. At 6 p.m., there will be a march from the auditorium to Morris Brown AME Church, 13 Morris St., where a mass meeting will be held.
The Secession Ball will feature a play highlighting key moments from the signing of South Carolina's Ordinance of Secession 150 years ago, an act that severed the state's ties to the Union and put the nation on the path to the Civil War.
"There is nothing to celebrate about killing a million people. South Carolina still lives under the rule of the Confederacy today," Randolph said.
He compared the Secession Ball to celebrating Sept. 11, Adolf Hitler, or the American Indian massacre at Wounded Knee.
"We want some consistency. We want South Carolina -- and America -- to be consistent in the way it treats and honors all its citizens."
Randolph said the argument that secession was about states' rights misrepresents the facts of slavery.
"The state wanted to right to buy and sell people. Tell the whole truth," he said.
He spoke at a news conference at the Charleston branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, where he was surrounded by area leaders of the organization and ministers.
Handouts at the meeting encouraged attendance at the march and mass meeting with the admonition: "A Call for Unity: Don't Celebrate Slavery and Terrorism."
Jeff Antley, who is organizing the Secession Ball, said recently that the event honors the men who stood up for their rights.
"It has nothing to do with slavery as far as I'm concerned," he said. "What I'm doing is honoring the men from this state who stood up for their self-government and their rights under law -- the right to secede was understood.
"Slavery is an abomination, but slavery is not just a Southern problem. It's an American problem," Antley said. "To lay the fault and the institution of slavery on the South is just ignorance of history."
Handouts from the Charleston NAACP meeting on Friday