Sunday, April 15, 2007

Steve Spurrier, the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Confederate Flag…

In the Civil Rights era, quite a few personalities in sports such as Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali Brown and Dean Smith sometimes spoke out on issues of injustice although at times severe repercussions could have been faced, sadly in the case of Ali.

As we are now in the 21st century, athletes, coaches and administrators usually keep their mouth shut and nose out of controversial issues, well, because it would cost them big time money and their livelihood.

This weekend, one man broke the mold – Steve Spurrier.

Whether you agree with him or not, you have to respect and appreciate the stand Steve Spurrier made.

After the Gamecocks’ spring game, Steve Spurrier in a press conference said the Confederate flag should not fly at the South Carolina statehouse in response to a statement he made Friday night as received an award.

Spurrier said:

"My opinion is we don't need the Confederate flag at our Capitol," Spurrier said Saturday. "I don't really know anybody that wants it there, but I guess there are a lot of South Carolinians that do want it there."

City Year board chairman Kerry Abel said Spurrier's remarks at his group's awards banquet Friday night caught everyone by surprise.

On a video of the banquet, Spurrier is heard saying the South Carolina-Tennessee game last year, which was featured on ESPN's "GameDay," was marred "by some clown ... waving that dang, damn Confederate flag behind the TV set. And it was embarrassing to me and I know embarrassing to our state.

"I realize I'm not supposed to get in the political arena as a football coach, but if anybody were ever to ask me about that damn Confederate flag, I would say we need to get rid of it. I've been told not to talk about that. But if anyone were ever to ask me about it, I certainly wish we could rid of it."

Even though coaches these days are supposed to lead their teams to victories and give inspirational post game thoughts, it’s nice to see a person of Spurrier’s stature and power at the University give his thoughts on a political hot button issue.

For me, as an African American, I have never lived in the “deep South”, but I think the confederate flag is one of oppression, hate, and a gateway to America’s ugly past.

My first exposure to the Confederate flag came via trip to Athens, Ga., in the mid 1990’s, as my sister attended school at the University of Georgia. Although the people in the town were nice and accommodating, seeing the flag waved on people’s homes gave me a feeling of unease and not being welcome.

I can see where the issue of ‘Southern Pride’ comes into play, but for a group of people, a sizable one in that state and a few others, the flag is representation of division.

I have no idea why Spurrier said what he said, but perhaps it might be that a lot of his players are African-American and play for a state school, or he in his heart truly believes it should not be flown on the state capitol; however, I find it refreshing to hear a coach speak his mind on issues other than football.

Personally, I believe for the good of the state of South Carolina and its image, perhaps it might be a good idea for the flag to come down.

More importantly, it would help to heal the ugly wounds of part of America’s ugly past and let be known that the opinion of a sizable portion of the state’s population actually matters.


The Omnipotent Q said...

I'm not a Southerner, having been born and raised in NYC. I'll never understand why some states in the South keep the Stars and Bars, as it's a symbol of a group of people who were traitors to the US, having seceeded from the Union. They started the Civil War, and 620,000 men went down to their deaths to preserve the country and end slavery.

The flag is a symbol of one of the worst periods in American history, but I agree with Rudy Giuliani who said it is up to each individual state to decide what to do with the flag.

USMCRebel said...

You toss that word "traitor" around so loosely, but at that time in our country's history, we didn't have the word indivisible in our pledge of allegiance and our states were supreme sovereignties bound together by a loosely binding federal government. From the Declaration of Independence: "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." Now, from a quote from Abraham Lincoln 13 years before the hostilities in 1848: "Any people, anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suites them better. This is a most valuable and most sacred right - a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people, that can may revolutionize and make their own of so many of the territory as they inhabit." You tell if according to those excerpts secession was not an inherent right to any state to secede. And oh yes, the Northeastern states threatened secession in the 1820's. And they would have been right to exercise that right as well. Had not the colonials prevailed in the American Revolution. All of our heroes including Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, etc. would have been hung as traitors by Great Britain. But would you have considered them traitors as well? Yes, you would now because we would all be subjects of the crown. And it would be unpatriotic of you to see it in any other light! I served 8 years in the U S Marine Corps and I love the United States, faults and all, but had I lived back then I would have donned a gray uniform because I know in my heart of hearts that they were right in their revolution as well. Only they didn't prevail. Remember, all they wanted to do was leave in peace. It was Lincoln that called for volunteers to invade the Southern states. And slavery didn't enter the picture until two years into the war. It was a political move on Lincoln's part to keep any of the European powers from coming in on the side of the South. That is a fantasy to say that the Northerners were fighting to free the blacks. I have read countless diary excerpts from northern soldiers saying that if they thought for one minute they were fighting to free the blacks then they would throw down their guns and come home immediately. 14 out of 15 Confederate soldiers never owned a slave. So was that the real issue at hand. Or was it the fact that the South was exporting 90% of the nations exports in 1860 and being taxed outrageous tariffs that Lincoln didn't want to say goodbye too? Things are seldom that cut and dry. Those are facts! Unfortunately the Northern propaganda machine took over after the war and alot of the facts have been misconstrued.

ssalmon said...

I wish Steve Spurrier along with you and all other African Americans would take the time to educate yourselves on the true origin of the Confederate flag. All of the comments stating that it should be taken down or that it stands for hatred or slavery is nothing but total ignorance! Statements such as these only make people such as yourself appear to be very uneducated.
Ignorance is only the reluctance to learn!

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