Yesterday I read that the S.C. Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum is planning to display the nylon Confederate flag that was removed from the state house grounds in Columbia, South Carolina following the murder of nine church members by Dylann Roof in 2015. This was the plan all along when it was removed, but the funds that were to be allocated for a proper display have yet to materialize. This has placed the staff of the museum in an awkward position since they are mandated to display it with or without funding.
I have serious concerns. The article linked to above reveals very little in terms of how this particular flag will be interpreted for the general public. Allen Roberson, director of the museum, “said he plans to display the modern, nylon flag in a simple frame among the authentic Confederate flags in the…museum.”
But this is not just another Confederate flag. This is Dylann Roof’s Confederate flag. Its meaning and the very fact that it is at present in a box inside a museum has everything to do with Roof’s actions as well as the reaction by the state and the rest of the nation.
Members of the neo-Confederate community have expressed concern about whether this particular Lost Cause artifact will be handled honorably. It goes without saying that this should not be the priority of the public historians on staff. Rather, their focus should be on how to accurately interpret this artifact in light of its brief history beginning in 2000 and ending in the wake of an attempt to start a race war by murdering innocent African Americans.
- Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd (54) – Bible study member and manager for the Charleston County Public Library system; sister of politician and former state senator Malcolm Graham.
- Susie Jackson (87) – a Bible study and church choir member.
- Ethel Lee Lance (70) – the church’s sexton.
- Depayne Middleton-Doctor (49) – a pastor who was also employed as a school administrator and admissions coordinator at Southern Wesleyan University.
- Clementa C. Pinckney (41) – the church’s pastor and a South Carolina state senator.
- Tywanza Sanders (26) – a Bible study member; grandnephew of victim Susie Jackson.
- Daniel Simmons (74) – a pastor who also served at Greater Zion AME Church in Awendaw.
- Sharonda Coleman-Singleton (45) – a pastor; also a speech therapist and track coach at Goose Creek High School; mother of MLB prospect Chris Singleton.
- Myra Thompson (59) – a Bible study teacher.
The museum staff has a responsibility as public historians and as members of the community to engage their visitors around this complicated history. Anything less will be a betrayal of their mission and the memory of the “Charleston Nine.”