A Confederate flag has flown for years outside the Danville Museum of Fine Arts & History in Virginia, but local civil rights leaders want the flag moved indoors.
The Confederate flag is a symbol of hate that has become a “gang or Klan sign” that is subject to hate statutes by law, according to Rev. Avon Keen, president of the Danville/Pittsylvania County chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. “What community in the United States of America can continue to fly a symbol of hate like that?”
“The Confederate flag is not the voice of all [of] Danville, Virginia’s citizens. Some citizens are more concerned about the federal laws that protect rights to equality to all citizens than a questionable interpretation of a state law being used to make states’ rights statements.”
The museum’s director, in a Sept. 30 letter to the city, asked Danville City Council to remove the flag from outside the building to inside for the exhibit as part of its new three-year strategic plan.
The request prompted an uproar from Confederate heritage organizations and other supporters of keeping the flag on display outside the museum. The move re-ignited a debate between flag supporters and those who see the flag as a racist reminder of past enslavement of African-Americans.
Last month, the city manager announced that Danville does not have the legal authority to remove the flag from the museum’s front lawn.
“If the Jewish community saw a Nazi flag flying out here it would come today. Put one out here and see what happens. The African-American community has patiently stood by this flag flying here, and now it’s time for it to come down,” added Rev. Keen. “Hate groups used this flag as they hung people.”
“Then you need to go back to Africa!” responded Ed Clark of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
“It’s the right thing to do, to keep it up. It’s a piece of history. A lot of things offend me and I don’t sit there and say you need to stop that and take it down and be done with it,” added Clark.