Among them were a local activist and her students
On June 17, nine African Americans were murdered at The Mother Emanuel AME Church, located in Charleston, South Carolina. The alleged perpetrator, who has been arrested and is in custody, is 21 years of age. Major news outlets showed the world pictures of this young man waving a Confederate flag in one hand while holding an automatic weapon in the other.
Survivors told the young man, “We are not supposed to forgive you, but we do forgive you.” They went on to say, “God, please help him to get rid of the possessive demons that lay in him.”
The Confederate flag dispute has been going on for years. Fifteen years ago the NAACP started a boycott in South Carolina that is still in affect pertaining to the fact that the Confederate flag still flew on the Columbia, South Carolina capital grounds. This followed a demonstration by over 45,000 people in March of 2000. The protesting people were assured that the flag would be removed from the Capitol building dome that it had stood on for about 100 years.
Twin Cities’ resident Rosa Bogar is a former resident of Orangeburg, South Carolina, located about 100 miles from Charleston. She was born and raised there before relocating to Minnesota. In June of 2000 Bogar received a letter from the then-South Carolina governor Jim Hodges in response to letters of protest by Bogar and her Richard Green School eighth graders requesting that the Confederate flag be taken off the South Carolina Capitol grounds.
In the letter Hodges wrote to Bogar on June 5, 2000, he said, “I am pleased to report that the Confederate flag will no longer fly in positions of sovereignty at the state capitol complex. Effective July 1, 2000, the Confederate flag will be removed from the dome of the South Carolina State House, and it will also be removed from the House and Senate chambers. In addition, an historically accurate flag will be placed at the monument to the Confederate war dead on the State House grounds.”
The flag was removed from the Capitol building dome to another location on the Capitol grounds, which, as Bogar said, “Made a lot of people very upset. All they did was remove it from this far away, unreachable dome, to a location now closer to the people; it was put right in our faces. We were now being literally slapped in our faces by it.” Hodges was never reelected.
“I think if they had listened to those Richard Green students 15 years ago, the Charleston tragedy may not have happened,” said Bogar. “That flag took away from us having proper grieving. There is a lot that the overall public does not know about the South Carolina issues.
“Charleston was a major port for slave trading and a popular landing area for the slave ships,” Bogar explained. “There was a Black man who for five years on every Christmas day would chain himself to the surrounding gates of the Columbia, South Carolina Capitol grounds in protest of the Confederate flag flying there, and he brought great recognition to that dilemma until he died.”
Bogar continues to educate here in the Twin Cities, always involving the youth. She had worked for many years trying to meet with Charleston, South Carolina Mayor Joseph Riley, who agreed to meet with her earlier this year. She thanked him for his support of the work she is doing, for his efforts in trying very hard to end racial divisions, and his support of integration. Riley appointed the first Black police chief for Charleston.
Bogar is currently working on a three-phase project supporting Black Lives Matter. The second phase involved meeting with Mayor Riley. She met with him on April 17, two months prior to the Charleston tragedy.
Raymond Jackson welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.