Folly Beach is a town located on a sliver of sand known as Folly Island in Charleston County, South Carolina. As you cross the bridge to the island, over Folly Creek, there is an old boat on the side of the road that washed ashore in 1989 during Hurricane Hugo. Since that time people have painted messages on the boat such as Happy sweet 16, Welcome home from Iraq and Come listen to my band playing at Snapper Jack’s tonight.
But recently the South Carolina Secessionist Party felt the need to remind us that they are still fighting a battle long since decided, the Civil War. Now what groups like this will tell you is that they don’t want start a new Civil War, never mind their name, the South Carolina Secessionist Party. What they are “fighting” is the removal of a symbol that they hold sacred, the Confederate battle flag.
This was their statement on Facebook; “Every year on the anniversary of the removal of the Battle Flag of our ancestors, we will gather at the South Carolina State House, hoist the flag back in its rightful place, and thumb our nose to those who would erase our history, heritage and culture.”
I have written about this issue before; A white southern male-my story and Hate not heritage: The Confederate Battle Flag and I know a little about the Civil War. As it just so happens I took one of those silly online quizzes about the Civil War this morning just for shits and giggles. 50 questions, I got three wrong. My ancestors fought and died in the Civil War and as best as I can tell none of them were salve owners. They didn’t have that kind of money. So what were they fighting for? In my mind they fought and died because they didn’t have the $300 to buy their way out of it. In my opinion, the Civil War was a battle on behalf of the haves fought by the have-nots. My ancestors, poor dirt farmers, shed their blood for the rich plantation owners and politicians. I find very little honor in that.
I am not sure groups like the South Carolina Secessionist Party have given much thought to what their history, heritage and culture might mean to other people, say the African-American community. I share the same history, heritage and culture as they do I just no longer honor it by waving a symbol that some people view as an emblem of hate, oppression and suppression.
Chrys Blackstone saw a photo of the boat on social media and drove to see it expecting to find that it had already been painted over. It hadn’t. So he bought a gallon of white paint and a brush and got to work. Blackstone’s reason for covering up the handy work of South Carolina Secessionist Party; “It’s fine that people want to hold on to an ideal, but it’s the wrong ideal. But what a wonderful place we have where somebody can come and put this up, and somebody can come right behind them and take it down.”
I wish groups like the South Carolina Secessionist Party would use the time they spent painting the Folly Beach boat or waving the Confederate flag on long poles in parking garages and highway overpasses on something more productive, something more inclusive. The Civil War ended 152 years and the side waving the Confederate flag lost. It is time to let it go South Carolina Secessionist Party, let it go.