The Confederate battle flag removed from S.C. State House grounds last July remains in limbo.
Members of the S.C. Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum Commission on Wednesday acknowledged that lawmakers didn’t move on a proposal to expand the museum and display the flag. And lawmakers this year sustained Gov. Nikki Haley’s veto of a proposal to study moving the flag – and the museum – to Charleston from Columbia.
For now, the $52 nylon flag – one of many that flew over the State House grounds through the years – remains wrapped in acid-free tissue paper in a white, acid-free textile storage box. The box is stored on a stainless steel rack in a locked, alarmed, climate-controlled room in the back of the museum.
“We’re really where we were last year,” said Commission Chairman George Dorn of Lexington. “You’ve got to go back and regroup.”
The museum’s staff will work on a solution but ultimately needs lawmakers’ approval to move forward with displaying the flag, museum director Allen Roberson said. Lawmakers could also offer their own plan and funding solution, he said.
The flag was removed July 10 last year, less than a month after the racially motivated massacre of nine black parishioners in a Charleston church.
Roberson said the museum, tucked away in the back of the S.C. State Museum, doesn’t have the budget or space to display the flag. Cramming the flag display into the museum’s existing programming space could jeopardize the museum’s national accreditation, he said.
“Our collections area is overflowing right now,” Roberson said.
That’s why the Relic Room and Military Museum late last year proposed a $3.6 million expansion to the museum, which includes opening a new wing that would display the flag.
Lawmakers had balked at an earlier, $5.3 million version of that proposal. But Roberson said Wednesday he hasn’t received feedback on the most recent proposal.
He said his staff and the commission are willing to work with lawmakers and the governor’s office on a solution.
“We do want to do something with it, but we want to do it right,” Roberson said.