NAACP to teach 'Truth'

Rev. Nelson B. Rivers, III vice president of the NAACP's stakeholder relations (left), and Dr. Lonnie Randolph, Dr. Lonnie Randolph, president of the South Carolina NAACP, talks about the organization's plans to hold a "teach-in" Tuesday during the Lowcountry's Civil War Sesquicentennial observance.

The NAACP doesn't plan to protest any events connected with today's 150th anniversary of firing on Fort Sumter, but its leaders plan to hold a "teach-in" tonight.

The free three-hour event, called "The Truth about the Civil War and the Lingering Effects," will include brief lectures by College of Charleston history professor Dr. Bernard Powers, NAACP state president Lonnie Randolph, national NAACP vice president The Rev. Nelson B. Rivers III, and Charleston School of Law board chairman Alex Sanders.

"The NAACP believes the horrors of the Civil War and the barbaric enslavement of human beings that led to the war should never be celebrated," Rivers said. "We acknowledge that the Civil War observances should be a time to look back at the worst period of our nation's history with a clear-eyed view of the brutal reality of chattel slavery -- its causes and lingering effects on America today."

Rivers and Randolph announced the event Monday as a way of setting the record straight, in their eyes, about the horrors of slavery and the war.

"Many times, these celebrations have been romanticizing the past, transforming the war from what it was to what they want it to be," Rivers said, adding the firing on Fort Sumter was "an act of treason and terrorism."

While this week's events haven't included a lightning rod event like last December's gala marking the signing of the Ordinance of Secession, Randolph said, "There's still too much celebration of atrocities."

He and Rivers also questioned the taste and appropriateness of some events, such as Saturday's children's musket drill at Fort Moultrie.

While Civil War Sesquicentennial organizers have tried to create a diverse program, some feel it's not diverse enough, Rivers said. "For a lot of African Americans, this is going to be a painful time."