SALE OF THE CONFEDERATE FLAG AT THE LORAIN COUNTY FAIR (Revised 07-24-20)
Since the end of the American Civil War (1861-1865), the display of the Confederate flag has been a source of great debate. To some, the flag represented a connection to their ancestors who supported the southern states that seceded from the Union. For others, the flag represented an allegiance to a “Lost Cause”, a way of life that included the sale and enslavement of African Americans as a major economic driver.
Following the mass murder in South Carolina in June 2015, in which a gunman shot and killed nine people attending bible study at a historic black church, the Confederate battle flag, also called the rebel flag, the southern cross and the Dixie flag, became the subject of contentious debate. Over 400,000 people signed a petition that the government of South Carolina remove the flag from “all government places.” After weeks of emotional debate, the flag was removed from the grounds of the South Carolina capitol on July 10, 2015.
And in May 2020, after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN, the flag again became the subject of debate as protests against racism occurred across the country. On June 28, 2020, the Mississippi state legislature passed a bill to remove the Confederate emblem from their flag in a historic referendum on the only remaining state flag to feature the Confederate insignia.
Although the flag is divisive, Americans have mixed feelings about its display. A Gallup poll taken in 2015 found that a 54% majority (64% of whites and 19% of blacks) agreed that the flag represents not racism but Southern heritage and pride. 34% (69% of blacks and 27% of whites) believed it was racist. The poll also showed that Democrats and the highly educated were more likely to perceive the flag negatively. Over time, support for the display of the flag continues to decline.
On July 17, 2015, the Ohio State Fair banned the sale of the flag, stating in a press release:
“The Ohio State Fair has long held a policy that prohibits the sale of merchandise that contains offensive wording, lettering or graphics,” General Manager Virgil L. Strickler wrote in a letter to vendors on Thursday. “As such, beginning with the 2015 Ohio State Fair, the sale or display of confederate flags and/or confederate flag merchandise shall be prohibited. Any vendors found to be selling any items featuring the image of the confederate flag will be asked to promptly remove those items.”
On July 17, 2020, the Elyria YWCA, on behalf of a group known as the Fair-minded Coalition of Lorain County, requested the support of United Way of Greater Lorain County in opposing the sale of the Confederate flag at the Lorain County Fair.
United Way of Greater Lorain County (UWGLC) has previously stated its aspiration “to be a model of diversity and inclusion” in all aspects of its governance, operation and work in the community. Consistent with that intent, UWGLC recognizes that, although the Confederate battle flag is a symbol with greatly different meaning to some, we believe it is divisive and a symbol of hatred, oppression, slavery, and discrimination.
Toward that end, UWGLC supports:
• The boycott of the Lorain County Fair until the Fair Board bans the sale of the Confederate battle flag and all symbols of hatred.