Glenn McConnell choice as president of College of Charleston draws fire from Southern Poverty Law Center

Protesters hold up a sign protesting the C of C Trustees prior to the WBI Semifinal between Stephen F. Austin and the College of Charleston on Thursday, March 27, 2014 at TD Arena. (Shane Roper/Special to The Post and Courier)

Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell's selection as the next College of Charleston president is drawing fire from the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of the nation's premier defenders of civil rights which also concentrates on hate organizations.

On Thursday, Josh Glasstetter, campaign director with the SPLC, posted an article on McConnell, tracing his support for the Confederate flag and Southern causes.

The article recalls comments and quotes, some as far back as the 1990s, on the former Charleston state senator's defense of Southern heritage.

Glasstetter describes McConnell as having "a neo-Confederate past." Among the examples of McConnell's conduct he cites were his once owning a Confederate memorabilia shop, and the fight with former Gov. David Beasley on removing the flag from the Statehouse dome, among other issues.

"It's the 21st century, but McConnell is still fighting the Civil War (or the "War Between the States," as he calls it). And so too, it seems, is the College of Charleston's Board of Trustees," Glasstetter's article says.

Reached late Thursday, McConnell said everyone is welcome to an opinion. He added that most of those who were part of the Confederate flag compromise that put the banner at a spot on the Statehouse grounds have moved on, except for what he called the extremists on both sides.

"I'm not going to go back and open up old wounds," he said. "I know what my record is," he also said.

The fire from the law center comes as a local group plans to hold what supporters are calling a campus "walk-out" Friday afternoon over the McConnell pick.

"Fight for C?of?C" is asking students, faculty and alumni to walk out of class and gather at the Cistern at 1:15 p.m.

"The process was tainted," said school alumnus Brandon Upson from the Class of 2013.

The college's Board of Trustees selected McConnell as the school's next president last Saturday following a nationwide search. Upson said a target of the walk-out includes the process used to pick McConnell, on the contention he was the pre-determined choice.

Supporters have created the website

The group also has called for a "teach-in" from noon to 2 p.m. Monday at the Cistern, where professors will be asked to walk out of class and give lessons on protest movements.

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