Last week in Union Springs, Alabama former State Senator and County Commissioner Myron Penn brought his family to a local Confederate cemetery and removed small Confederate flags that decorated individual graves. The African-American politician and lawyer explained his actions this way:
The reason why we picked them up is because the image of the flags in our community, a lot of people feel that they’re a symbol of divisiveness and oppression… I would think that no one in our community would have a problem with… my actions at all.
Well, as you might imagine, there are folks in the community and beyond who have a problem with his actions, but so far no charges have been filed. While steps are being taken to replace the flags – apart from a few death threats – Mr. Penn’s actions appear to have no consequences attached to it.
There was a time when even the rumor of such a step being taken by a black man in such a place might have easily resulted in a public lynching. In 2015 Mr. Penn can speak for his community and even publicize this act for everyone to see and with no apologies.
This story will likely blow over very soon and life in Union Springs (to whatever extent it has been disrupted as a result) will return to normal. Confederate flags may return to the cemetery, but in 2015 it appears they can just as easily be removed.