The S.C. Confederate Relic Room commission reluctantly approved on Thursday a pared-down plan to display the Confederate flag that was removed in 2015 from the State House grounds.
Several commission members said the flag does not belong in the Confederate Relic Room because it’s more of a political flag than a military flag. They suggested it be displayed at the State Museum with the Confederate flags that were removed in 2000 from the State House dome and from the House and Senate chambers.
“This modern flag shouldn’t be here with the flags that carry the sweat and blood of our ancestors,” said commission member Leland Summers, who is the state commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
The commission voted 5-1 to approve the latest plan, with the stipulation that commissioners prefer it be sent to the State Museum. The legislation that removed the flag from the State House lawn in 2015 stipulated that it be displayed with respect and in conjunction with other Confederate artifacts at the Confederate Relic Room.
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Commissioners also cited a lack of space in suggesting that the flag be sent to the State Museum. The emphasized, however, that the flag would be displayed in the Relic Room if the legislature insisted.
The commission’s plan calls for renovating two offices at the museum, which is located in the same mill building as the S.C. State Museum on Gervais Street, into a display space for the nylon flag that was taken down in the wake of the shooting of nine parishioners at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston in June 2015.
The plan also calls for displaying the cotton Confederate flag that was first unfurled on the State House grounds 15 years earlier, when the flags were removed from the State House dome and from the House and Senate chambers.
The $350,000 renovation plan is less than one-tenth of the $3.6 million museum-expansion plan floated by the Relic Room’s commission last year.
The more expensive plan included an addition to the museum that would have allowed for display of the many authentic Confederate flags the Relic Room now has to keep in storage.
The plan and the commission’s new recommendation will be forwarded to lawmakers. The General Assembly has mandated that the State House flag be displayed with respect and in conjunction with other Confederate artifacts.
The new plan includes $112,500 for remodeling of two offices that adjoin the museum, $217,500 for the display and $20,000 for contingency.
The $217,500 includes a projection system that would allow for, say, the names of all Confederate soldiers from South Carolina killed in the Civil War to be displayed, or for video presentations of the differing views of the flag when it was removed.
“It gives us flexibility,” museum executive director Allen Roberson said.
The $3.6 million plan would have displayed the modern flag in a new wing with other, authentic Confederate flags now in storage, along with a digital display of the names of all South Carolina soldiers killed in the Civil War. That plan also included a new entrance for the tiny museum.
The legislature never considered the more expensive plan, nor has it given any money to the Relic Room for the display.