Inconsistent Concern Over Confederate Celebrations; Black Group Wonders If Politics Taint Selective Protests

High-profile black leaders and politicians appear to be selective in their outrage over commemorations of the Confederacy. Members of the African-American leadership network Project 21 point out that state observances of the Confederacy in the home states of President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore, who are Democrats, are not drawing the condemnation that has been placed at the feet of Republican politicians.

On April 22, President Clinton’s home state of Arkansas observes Confederate Flag Day. On April 26, Vice President Gore’s home state of Tennessee has a similar Confederate heritage observance. Neither commemoration has elicited the national attention that has been drawn to the Confederate battle flag being flown above the South Carolina statehouse, Republican Governor James Gilmore’s recent signing of a bill making April Confederate Heritage Month in Virginia and NAACP requests that Republican Governor and presidential candidate George W. Bush remove Confederate memorial plaques in the Texas Supreme Court’s building in Austin.

"Where are our black leaders on this issue?" asked Project 21 member Kevin Martin. "These Confederate observances are taking place during several high religious holidays, and I’m literally hearing nothing. I’ve heard a few people are protesting them, but there’s silence from Kweisi Mfume, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Why?"

While the NAACP’s economic boycott of South Carolina continues and legislation to move the Confederate battle flag from atop the statehouse has passed in the state’s senate, the major protests by African-American organizations dropped off after the state’s Republican presidential primary. The governor of South Carolina is a Democrat and both chambers of the legislature are Democrat-controlled.

If Clinton and Gore, who have spoken out strongly against the battle flag in South Carolina, are serious about removing commemorations of the Confederacy, it would seem logical that they would be most concerned about such things in their home states and would use their influence to stop them. To complain only about instances affecting politicians of another party suggests their actions are nothing more than political opportunism. The fact that black leaders are not holding their feet to the fire increases such concern.

"It is becoming increasingly clear that the outrage over the Confederate flag is a selective and targeted outrage with a clear political motive. If the outrage and the issue were as great as we are led to believe, Arkansas, Tennesee and several other states would be in the news as much as South Carolina and Texas," said Project 21 member Eddie Huff.

Project 21 has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x106 or [email protected], or visit Project 21’s website at

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