The issue of the request of the Effingham County branch of the NAACP on the removal of the Confederate symbols from the Effingham County School District, most especially at Effingham High School, is ongoing. Apparently, some in the extended community, as described on social media outlets, believe that the disrespect displayed toward our speakers at the Board of Education public hearing on Aug. 18 was an attempt to intimidate us from pursuing our concerns.
Far from it, the members of the Effingham County NAACP are emboldened to seek justice!
Again, on social media, there is a segment of the population that believes that the NAACP is fixated on the issue of slavery. The assertion is made that the African-American community needs to move on. Slavery, they contend, is a thing of the past; everything between the races is fine now! Oh, really?
President Lincoln issued the executive order known as the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863; in effect, that document released the African-Americans from slavery. This was reinforced in 1865 by the passage of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, officially abolishing slavery. Did mistreatment of the African-Americans end with this amendment?
Throughout the South, state laws were issued, which affirmed segregation between the races. These laws and these circumstances became known as “Jim Crow.” Laws were enacted to maintain the old order. Some professed that this was “separate, but equal.”; in reality, they resulted in a Southern society of “separate, but not equal.” Slavery was abolished in 1865, but equal treatment did not follow.
Jim Crow laws were not the only ways the old order was maintained. In a 2015 study, Bryan Stevenson, the director of the Equal Justice Initiative, produced a report entitled “Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror.” The report asserts that Caucasian Southerners lynched nearly 4,000 African-American men, women and children between 1877 and 1950. Stephenson believes that “this violence, this terror, was really aimed at sustaining racial hierarchy, keeping black people in their place.”
In the same report, Bryan Stephenson compares attitudes between two symbols of hate — the Nazi swastika and the Confederate symbols.
“You go to Germany now, and you are forced to deal with the legacy of the Holocaust, because there are markers and monuments everywhere. We do the opposite in this country. For example, throughout the Southern states, we find Confederate memorials and monuments everywhere, dedicated to the people who were defending and trying to preserve slavery; and yet, ignoring the pain, suffering, and injustice that those institutions created.”
In terms of education, in 1954, in the Brown versus the Board of Education case, the Supreme Court responded to the “separate, but equal” claims by asserting that separate schools are “inherently unequal.” Then Southern states “dragged their feet” in integrating their public schools.
Many school districts, like the Effingham County School District, did not finalize their integration plans until the early 1970s.
So, it is not merely slavery that upsets the Effingham County branch of the NAACP.
Lynchings, Jim Crow laws,“separate, but not equal” schools, and, oh, yes, the symbols of the Confederacy. Why are we concerned about these symbols?
As you know, the Effingham County School District is not the only educational institution dealing with this matter. Just in the past week, the University of Mississippi removed the state flag, including the Confederate symbol, from its campus.
Our resolve concerning this matter should not be questioned. We look forward to continuing the discussion concerning these symbols and other pertinent matters for the benefit of all the citizens of the Effingham County community.
Effingham County Branch of the NAACP