Caddell: Big deal about nothing

Annie Chambers Caddell said she doesn't see why everyone is making such a fuss about the Confederate battle flag she flies outside her Summerville home.

SUMMERVILLE -- If her Brownsville neighbors want to march in the street in protest of the Confederate battle flag outside her home, Annie Chambers Caddell doesn't mind.

"I think I'll join them. I think I'll protest the fact that they're protesting over nothing," she said, adding that she might bring along her pet python.

Caddell is the new resident who has outraged neighbors in the historically black community in Summerville by flying the flag from her porch alongside an American flag.

She doesn't understand the hostility, she said Thursday. But no, she won't back down. Not only will the flag stay up, she's having battle flag drapes made for the window. The Confederate motif is part of who she is, she said: a daughter of the South.

"I don't understand their concerns," she said. "If they said I was racist, that I was abusing them, I would be very concerned. But's that's not the issue."

People who live in the neighborhood said they understand that some people consider it heritage, but to them the connection is to slavery, lynchings and the Ku Klux Klan.

They are planning a protest march and will petition Town Council on the matter at its Oct. 13 meeting.

"This is the first time we've ever had anything like this in our community. We have always gotten along. This is a slap in the face," said Alfreda Brown, a member of the community's District 1 Civic Association and wife of Town Councilman Aaron Brown.

Caddell, 50, has suffered from Crohn's disease for 26 years, she said. Crohn's is a chronic disease, and her prognosis is poor, she said. She is on disability.

And the neighbors' dispute over the flag has erupted into a media event. Dozens of people drive past the house each day to get a look.

Caddell talked with The Post and Courier at a table under the tree in her front yard, sitting with a pack of cigarettes and an orange Clemson Tigers mug. She wore peace symbol earrings to make a statement, she said.

A neighbor rode by on a bike and they exchanged waves and hellos. People yelled something that couldn't be made out from two cars that passed by. Otherwise, the neighborhood was quiet.

Caddell has been married and divorced seven times. Born and raised in Charleston and Goose Creek, she moved away for 10 years to Georgia and then to Ohio.

She moved back to South Carolina to be closer to family. She wanted to buy her old family home in Goose Creek, but another bid took it. She looked at the cedar, block and brick Brownsville house and wanted it right away.

She made eight visits to the neighborhood before moving but didn't realize that most of the neighbors are black.

"Did I check out this neighborhood? No. Does it bother me? No," she said. She has put up the Confederate memorabilia wherever she has gone, she said, and has never had a problem before.

Her neighbors have been good to her, she said, helping her as she settled. The battle flag and decorations didn't come out for a month.

"It's a flag. It's my heritage. I tell you from the bottom of my heart I did not intend for this to bother anybody," she said, placing a hand over her heart.

"It's not like I'm wrapping myself up in it and walking down the street."

Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744.