Video by Story of America, broadcast on You Tube, July 1, 2015
Bill Starr has a South Carolina lineage that predates the Revolution, and ancestors who fought in the Civil War for the Confederate States of America. He wants the Confederate flag to come down. Annabel Park of Story of America spoke to Mr. Starr during the ceremonial lying in state for slain civil rights leader and State Senator Clementa Pinckney at the South Carolina state capitol in Columbia, SC.
The Confederate battle flag was raised over the South Carolina capitol dome in 1962 as a symbol of defiance of the Civil Rights movement. In 2002, a compromise in the state legislature moved the flag to a Confederate war memorial in front of the dome, with the United States flag and the South Carolina state flag replacing the Confederate flag atop the dome.
In the wake of the June 17, 2015 massacre at the Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, lawmakers including both US Senators and the governor of the state (all Republicans) asked the legislature to vote to remove the flag from state grounds as a symbol of healing, unity and inclusion.
“It’s unbearable to think that a hundred and fifty years after the end of the Civil War, fifty years after the end of legal segregation, that people are still being murdered for the crime of having been the victims of the greatest crime in history, which is what slavery was” begins Starr. He recounts his Confederate ancestry but explains that they weren’t slave-owners, just poor people drafted “sent to fight for a bunch of rich slave owners to defend the most unjust institution in history, and there is no honor in that, there is nothing to be proud of in that. The 300,000 Confederate soldiers soldiers who died in that war were murdered by slavery just as surely as the millions who died on the plantations.”