Martin: Remove “antiquated symbols that represent hate and oppression”

South Carolina men's basketball coach Frank Martin issued a statement Sunday on removing the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds. (AP Photo/ Butch Dill)

COLUMBIA — Although he was among several members of South Carolina’s athletic department who voiced support via Twitter for Gov. Nikki Haley’s effort to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds, USC men’s basketball coach Frank Martin has issued a statement detailing his personal feelings on the issue.

Martin joined USC athletics director Ray Tanner, president Harris Pastides, head football coach Steve Spurrier, and head women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley as those who joined Haley’s call Monday to remove the flag from the Confederate soldiers monument in the wake of the shooting deaths of nine churchgoers at Emanuel AME in Charleston.

A Columbia-area resident who has shown interest in segregation and the Confederacy has been charged with the killings. In a statement released Sunday, Martin, a first-generation American and the son of Cuban immigrants, said it was time to “do away with those antiquated symbols that represent hate and oppression to so many people.”

Martin became the first member of USC’s athletic department to issue a formal statement on the matter. The full text follows:

“As I stated through Twitter while on vacation, I stand with our Governor, Nikki Haley, with our Mayor, Steve Benjamin, with our school president, Dr. Harris Pastides, with our Athletic Director, Ray Tanner, with Coach Spurrier, Coach Staley and all other University of South Carolina coaches and state leaders that have spoken in calling for the removal of the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds.

“As a first generation American and a son of Cuban immigrants who came to this country in search of freedom; as the husband to another first generation American whose parents immigrated from Jamaica in search of a better life; as the father to three beautiful children who embody the splendor of diversity and as a life-long advocate and teacher to countless inner-city kids and disadvantaged youths, I ask our state leaders to do away with those antiquated symbols that represent hate and oppression to so many people. While I fully understand that the Confederate flag also represents the history of our state, I believe that it should be displayed at a museum and not at a public place which represents ALL the members of our incredible state.

“The people of South Carolina have welcomed my family and me with open arms and with such warmth that there’s no place on earth that I would rather live. It is that kindness and love that are truly representative of our state. In the past three years my family and I have had nothing but great experiences in this great state because of its caring and loving people.

“My path through the years as a basketball coach has taken me to many African American, Hispanic and other minorities’ homes. It’s been in those visits, in the eyes of parents who simply hope for a better life for their children and whose faith in God is at times their only refuge, that I am reminded how alike we all are. It is in those similarities — love for our families, respect for each other and sacrifice for our loved ones — that we must forge our future.”

— Frank Martin