CHARLESTON — World famous opera singer and Citadel graduate Morris Robinson wants South Carolina lawmakers to give his school permission to remove a Confederate flag from inside its chapel.
The school’s Board of Visitors agreed to remove the Confederate Naval Jack from Summerall Chapel in the wake of what police say was the racially-motivated killing of nine black churchgoers in Charleston in June.
But the same law that moved the rebel banner from atop the Statehouse to the capitol’s front lawn in 2000 is stopping the school from taking action. The Citadel will need a two-thirds vote from both the House and Senate to remove the flag, just like any other public body that wants to alter or remove a monument covered under the Heritage Act.
Robinson said he is proud of his school’s decision. He remembers how The Citadel band struck up “Dixie” and Confederate flags flew after every touchdown the team scored when he played in the early 1990s.
“When they stopped playing ‘Dixie’ and waving the Confederate flag, those were major steps forward for The Citadel. Removing the Confederate Naval Jack from Summerall Chapel is the next step. It belongs somewhere, in a library or a museum with a glass case around it. It doesn’t belong in a house of worship,” Robinson told The Post and Courier of Charleston.
Citadel alumni who support removing the flag have created the “Take It Down Now Campaign.” Former Citadel basketball player Jamie Jenkins, who belongs to the school’s Minority Alumni Association, said efforts need to be directed toward House Speaker Jay Lucas.
Lucas issued a statement after the Legislature voted to remove the Confederate flag from Statehouse grounds in July promising lawmakers would protect remaining monuments and Confederate flag displays in the state.
“This is a legislative issue,” Jenkins said. “The Board of Visitors has voted to take the flag down. The Speaker of the House is the one that we need to be focused on, that whole legislative process.”
One idea being considered is to ask The Citadel to remove its support of the 2016 Medal of Honor Bowl at its stadium. The NCAA could sanction the game after the Confederate flag was removed from the Statehouse, and the decision to remove support could put pressure on lawmakers.