S.C. governor offers King holiday if NAACP call off boycott

Wednesday, November 10th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Gov. Jim Hodges has a deal for the NAACP -- back off a boycott of South Carolina to force the removal of the
Confederate flag from the Statehouse dome and he will push for a Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Hodges made the proposal Wednesday during a speech at an Equal Opportunity Day banquet.
"The governor is either very ill-informed or insulting in his intent," said the Rev. Joe Darby, pastor of the state's largest African Methodist Episcopalian congregation, Charleston's Morris Brown AME Church.

Black leaders have for years called on the state to remove of the Confederate battle flag, which many consider a symbol of racism
and slavery, but state lawmakers -- who would have to vote to remove the flag -- have rejected all attempts. To press the issue, the NAACP called for a tourism boycott of the state to begin Jan. 1. So far, at least 80 groups have canceled meetings in the state.

Hodges said the creation of a King holiday would be a first step toward the mutual respect needed for discussions to bring down the flag. "The more strident the rhetoric, the more shrill headlines, the less likely we can make progress towards a final resolution," he

Dwight James, executive director of the NAACP's South Carolina Conference of Branches, said the proposal would be considered. But David Swinton, president of the predominantly black Benedict College and chairman of the Columbia Urban League, said there will be no compromise until the flag comes down.

"We're going to get that flag down, or there isn't going to be any peace in South Carolina," Swinton said.