BALTIMORE (AP) â€” NAACP President Kweisi Mfume threatened Tuesday to expand the civil rights group's tourism boycott of South Carolina if that state's lawmakers approve a proposal to move the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse dome to a nearby memorial.
Displaying the flag at the memorial, honoring Confederate soldiers, is unacceptable because of the monument's prominence on the Statehouse grounds, Mfume said.
``Where you once had to strain to see a flag 300 feet in the air, it would now be 30 feet in the air, larger, with lights and a fence,'' he said.
Legislation that would remove from the flag from dome and raise it beside the memorial was approved Thursday by the House and returned to the Senate.
The Senate had approved the move in the flag, but the House version made some changes that now must be considered by the Senate. It specifies the flag size at 52 inches square, lengthens the flagpole from 20 feet to 30 feet, and adds lighting and a fence.
Moving the flag from the dome to the memorial was considered a compromise by lawmakers who have been trying for years to bring the flag down. Six of seven black senators signed on to the original Senate version, but only three of the 26 black members of the House voted for the bill approved Thursday.
Mfume said he spoke with South Carolina state leaders over the weekend, but was not able to reach an agreement on the flag's removal.
If the bill is passed, Mfume said he would ask organized labor to support the boycott and urge executives of the motion picture and entertainment industries not to film or conduct any activities in South Carolina.
Mfume said the NAACP also would ask the NCAA to reconsider plans for athletic events in the state, including the first and second rounds of the 2002 NCAA men's basketball tournament games. The NCAA's executive committee voted last month to cancel future NCAA-sponsored events in the state unless the flag is removed from the dome by its next meeting, Aug. 11.
South Carolina raised the flag over the Statehouse in 1962 to commemorate the Civil War. Supporters say it honors the state's Confederate history; opponents see it as a symbol of racism and slavery.
On the Net:
Flag opponents: http://www.getinstep.com
South Carolina Heritage Coalition: http://www.kudzumedia.com/schc.htm
Sons of Confederate Veterans: http://wwww.scv.org