It took only nine murders of black church-goers to get the Confederate flag removed from the Statehouse property after it flew there, either on the Capitol dome or on the grounds, for 54 years. Gov. Nikki Haley held a press conference to announce her belated conclusion, in her fifth year as governor, that it was then time for the flag to come down.
Shortly thereafter, white Republican Rep. Jenny Horne made a belated, emotional appeal in the House to take the flag down. Now Horne and Haley are being praised and said to be qualified for higher office — for Congress and the vice presidency, respectively.
We should also remember that it took the recent killing of another black man, Walter Scott, by a white policeman in North Charleston, with the act captured on video, to get the attention of North Charleston authorities that there might be a problem of racism in that community.
During all the public flag ceremonies, two particular black people were not present because they were not invited to participate. They are Dot Scott and the Rev. Joseph Darby, president and vice president of our local NAACP, and they had been protesting the flag for years. The two were belittled for insisting on an economic boycott of South Carolina until the flag was removed.
Dot Scott and Rev. Darby also have frequently rung the alarm about other racist situations in our communities and state. Problems include some police discrimination against black citizens, inferior education in de facto segregated public schools, and lack of employment opportunities because of racist attitudes.
In response, Dot Scott and Rev. Darby have often been vilified or ignored. North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey once publicly called Dot Scott a “nut” for denouncing his plan to place a Confederate monument in a city park. Rev. Darby got a little more respect, likely due to his ministerial title, but he didn’t get any more results.
Well, I say move over, Gov. Haley and Rep. Horne — and all you other politicians who jumped on the anti-flag bandwagon and did the right thing only when you realized it was politically safe to do so. Real courage takes place when it’s hard to do something.
Dot Scott and the Rev. Joseph Darby are true heroes in our community. There are no awards for them. We won’t see them in Congress next year. I’m sure they’ll still be here among us, telling us things we need to know even when it makes us uncomfortable. Let’s listen to them in the future.