There was and is jubilation over bringing down the Confederate Flag in South Carolina.This flag, which in the minds of many represent the hate associated with slavery, needed to come down. A small minority of folks still think that the flag is a legitimate part of American history and that it should be respected. They may be right, but the flag now needs to reside in a museum.
Supporters of the flag are few, or they are silent. And the flag was finally, and rightly, moved from its prominent position on state grounds in South Carolina.
The history of this flag is rather significant. In the early 1960’s, in response to the successes of the Civil Rights Movement, a Democratic governor had the flag raised in protest of those victories. Sometime in 1970’s, a Republican governor tried to remove the flag and lost the next election, largely because of that issue!
Now, after nine Christians were murdered in an African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, a Republican governor, working with a bi-partisan legislature, succeeded in removing this sorry symbol. Why do we call it sorry? Flags need to be symbols of unity, never symbols that divide. How can any state promote any symbol that makes a significant part of its citizenry uncomfortable?
So, we are glad that that flag is down. We hope that its future will forever be in museums, where history is recorded and preserved for posterity.
We have another concern, however.
The jubilation of African Americans over the removal of the flag was palpable. Many black leaders spoke as though Moses had just crossed the Red Sea and the people were forever in a new state of being. But that is not the case. That is never the case with black leaders. No significant action in black history is ever used as a marker of the before/after of their existence. Every action is just another activity that never changes anything.
What are we getting at here? It seems as though nothing will ever be sufficiently significant to force blacks to finally conclude that we are now living in a new reality, and that the new reality demands that we discover new ways of looking at life as we go forward.
The racist flag is down. There is currently no “Jim Crow-like law” anywhere in this nation. There is a black president, with the name Barak H. Obama. There are some African American billionaires; Oprah Winfrey is one of them. If any black person’s civil rights are violated, the courts can and will fix that! There is no arena in which the law of the land authenticates laws that are specifically designed to harm blacks or keep them in their place. And now, with majority sentiment and action, a state symbol of the past has been easily and joyfully removed.
What now? In the history of mankind, when flags are brought down, they are used to signify a change in regime and attitude. When a colonial entity, like Jamaica, gains its independence, The Union Jack is brought down in a ceremony where the Jamaican flag is raised, and this simple act is used as the marker of the before/after of a reality.
In black America, no matter that America elected a black president twice; no matter that there are no Jim Crow laws, no matter what progress has been made, nothing will function as the marker of the before/after of black life. Everything remains the same, and for eternity.
This must change at some point. Something must be made to mark the change.
Suggestions of events that could serve as markers of the before/after in the Black American Story: January 1, Emancipation Day; Juneteenth; the Civil Rights Victories of the 1960s; the death and later elevation of Martin Luther King, Jr.; the election of Barak Obama to the Presidency; the removal of the Confederate Flag!
Think about it! Something must serve as the marker, or forever nothing will really change, conceptually!