PRESS RELEASE: Commission Decision Denies Black History, Affirms Public Racism
by BRUCE SEAMAN
OCALA-October 6, 2015
Today’s decision by the Marion County Commission to continue to fly the Confederate flag on government property has dismissed the very essence and experience of the black community whenever and wherever this flag has been flown.
The Commission has embraced and affirmed a racist view of history that is known to be “whitewashed,” presenting inaccurate and blatantly false representations of the flag’s history. This is the view espoused by the Marion County Historical Commission in its deliberations, an all-white, county-authorized Citizens Advisory Board. The Historical Commission was requested by the County Commission to make its recommendation on the issue.
“The County Commission’s decision is a disappointing affirmation of the divide that exists between the white and black communities in Marion County today. That divide has been clearly shown in the debate over the flag for the last several months,” said Rev. Bruce Seaman, Coordinator of the Bridges Project, a group that seeks to address race relations in Marion County. Formed in January, the Bridges Project has sustained a campaign for the removal of the Confederate flag to a museum display case since July.
The portrayal of the Confederate flag as symbolizing “heritage, not hate” by its supporters will be directly challenged in an upcoming campaign by the Bridges Project.
"The continued portrayal of the Confederate flag on public property is an affront to all human and civil decency, and continues the false narrative of 'heritage, not hate' throughout the community. The notion of ‘heritage, not hate’ only works if you erase the history of the black community concerning the Confederate flag. The legacy and images of hate are deep and inseparable from that flag. We will be reminding our community that the Confederate flag truly represents a heritage of hate,” said Francine Julius Edwards, a Bridges Project member whose family has been in Marion County since the county’s beginning. “It is a heritage of hate that has now been fully endorsed by the Marion County Commission as the Confederate flag continues to fly at McPherson Government Complex.”