Tuesday, June 23, 2015

OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM BENEDICT COLLEGE PRESIDENT
DR. DAVID H. SWINTON

I and the Benedict College family are deeply saddened by the tragic events in Charleston. We at Benedict College mourn the loss of those precious souls including our own fallen Tiger, Mrs. Myra Thompson. Mrs. Thompson earned a degree a Bachelor of Science degree in English from Benedict College in 1979. We pray for her husband, Rev. Anthony Thompson, who is also a Benedict graduate and all the families who lost loved ones.

This unfortunate incident was the consequence of the continued racial division and thoughtless racism practiced by some in our State. The continued belief by some thoughtless minority or our citizens in the rights of the white race to oppress non-whites is at the core of such senseless and tragic acts. And unfortunately those extremist who hold such views have adopted and wrapped themselves in the Confederate flag. Whatever noble ideals and heritage was once symbolized by the Confederate flag has long been lost to hatred and racism.

I am very appreciative and supportive of the effort to remove the flag from the state house grounds. This was my position in 2000 when we joined in the successful effort to remove the Confederate flag from the State House Chambers and Dome. We advocated for the removal to a museum perhaps the Confederate relic room at the State Museum. For many South Carolinians the flag is a divisive symbol associated with secession, oppression, racism and discrimination.

The racial history of our State, which has been home for my family traceable back to the Civil War, makes it quite clear why many South Carolinians feel this way. While some see the Confederacy as a noble cause others see this rebellion as an attempt to destroy the Union and to perpetuate and unholy and unjust system of human bondage and racism.

Those whose ancestors were enslaved and those who were sympathizers with the slaves cannot be neutral about the symbol of this oppressive system. But equally as objectionable is the fact that the symbol has been usurped in the post-Civil War period by terrorist and racist. Our state needs to put this division behind us and go forward as a unified people recognizing the dignity and equality of all South Carolinians.

I commend Governor Nikki Haley and all of the courageous political, religious, educational, business and other leaders in our State who have stepped forward to remove this symbol from our State House grounds. We offer our full support for this effort.


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