THE NATIONAL BAR ASSOCIATION DEMANDS THE REMOVAL OF THE CONFEDERATE FLAG AND ERADICATION OF SYSTEMATIC RACISM
Washington, DC – The National Bar Association (NBA), the nation’s oldest and largest national association of predominantly African-American lawyers, judges, educators and law students, is calling for an immediate change in the attitude and acceptance of the Confederate flag in this country. The flag is viewed as a symbol of oppression, racial inequality and hatred in the African American community; one that citizens of all races, creeds and color are fighting to be removed from our society. The National Bar Association will not sit quietly and observe the Confederate flag debate from the sidelines. Starting today, the organization will call out any states or companies who support the continued production and hanging of a symbol that offends a large portion of this country and reminds African Americans of a time when they were considered property not people.
“The removal of the Confederate flag is the first step to dealing with systematic racism in America. This forces the country to admit there is still a very serious problem with racial and economic inequality,” said Pamela Meanes, President of the National Bar Association.
In the wake of the shooting deaths of 9 African Americans at the historic Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina, there has been a spark in public dissatisfaction in the practice of flying the Confederate flag. Companies such as Wal-Mart, Sears, Target, eBay and Amazon have taken a stance against the production and resale of the Confederate flag by removing any merchandise featuring the image of the controversial symbol.
Although there has been major movement from retailers to remove the Confederate flag and its image from stock, there is still much work to be done. Several states still either fly the Confederate flag or have state flags that evoke symbols of Civil War Battle flags including South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Mississippi.
The National Bar Association applauds Alabama Governor Robert Bentley who ordered that the Confederate flag be removed from the Capital ground and Governor Nikki Haley, who initially hesitated to take a stance against flying the Confederate flag on South Carolina state grounds, but finally recognized that silence was not acceptable and called for its removal. Other legislators who have spoken out against the Confederate flag and the racist symbolism it represents are, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe who stated ” it is unnecessarily divisive and hurtful,” has called for its removal from state license plates, along with Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, who wants the flag removed from state license plates, but is wavering on the removal of racist symbols from the Maryland State House and the University of Maryland Football Stadium.
More importantly, the National Bar Association is calling on state and federal legislators, judges, academic institutions and businesses in all states to stop the display and/or selling of the Confederate flag in any manner. “We are not aware of any law mandating a legislator or judge to display the Confederate flag outside of their office or in a court. Thus, it is discretionary whether these individuals or entities choose to display the flag. Ones moral compass must come into play when dealing with an issue that resonates with millions of Americans. This is not a black or white dilemma it is a right or wrong one. The National Bar Association asks those with the authority to exercise such discretion, take a firm position against racism and stand for justice,” stated President Meanes.
The National Bar Association recognizes that the removal of the Confederate flag is only a symbolic move toward eradicating racism in America. Real healing and wholeness will only come when America has a real conversation about the systematic racism that is deeply embedded in the fabric of America. Accordingly, we must use this tragic moment to cause “real” and not simply “symbolic” change.
The National Bar Association will continue to speak out against states, companies and organizations that support the flying of the Confederate flag or any symbol that upholds the oppression and demoralization of African Americans.
About the National Bar Association
The National Bar Association was founded in 1925 and is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of predominantly African-American lawyers, judges, educators and law students. It has 84 affiliate chapters throughout the United States and affiliations in Canada, the United Kingdom, Africa, Morocco and the Caribbean. It represents a professional network of more than 20,000 lawyers, judges, educators and law students. It is a non-profit organization.