NAACP Urges Tourist Ban of South Carolina

From Associated Press

The NAACP wants blacks to avoid vacationing in South Carolina until the state removes a Confederate flag flying from its statehouse.

The National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People approved the boycott Thursday at its national meeting in New York. The resolution must still be ratified by the national board in October.

"We're asking African Americans and others who believe in fairness to consider relocating their family reunions, conventions, church groups and other meetings outside of the state as long as the Confederate flag is flown over the state Capitol," said James Gallman, president of the group's South Carolina chapter.

Tourism is a top industry in South Carolina, and visitors spent $6.8 billion in the state last year, according to the state Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department. Two million blacks vacationed in the state in 1997, the latest numbers available. They accounted for $280 million in direct spending.

One lawmaker accused the civil rights group of fostering stereotypes about white Southerners.

"When they brand it as a symbol of racism, I guess they're saying all of us who like it for heritage reasons are somehow flirting with racism, and that's just not true," said Glenn McConnell, a Republican state senator who owns a Confederate memorabilia gallery in Charleston.

Past efforts to bring down the flag have failed, including a lawsuit filed by the city of Columbia and state business leaders.

A state law enacted in 1995 gave the state Legislature sole power to remove the flag.

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