Confederate flag flap triggers boycott of South Carolina
August 13, 1999
From Correspondent Brian Cabell
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) -- Despite years of controversy and criticism, the Confederate battle flag still flies over South Carolina's capitol in Columbia.
No other Southern state still flies that flag over its statehouse, and the NAACP says enough is enough. It has called for an economic boycott of the Palmetto State.
"We know that economic sanctions work, and we're going to continue for whatever length of time it takes to make it happen," says James Gallman, NAACP state chairman.
South Carolina earns more than $6 billion directly from tourism each year, including an estimated $300 million from black visitors.
"This is an unfortunate situation, but it's not going to bring tourism to its knees in South Carolina," says Lou Fontana of the state's tourism agency. "It's too vibrant an industry."
Still, tourism officials concede the boycott may affect the convention business. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference has already canceled its convention, and a group of Democratic Party chairmen is considering canceling its gathering as well.
A similar boycott against Arizona in 1987, when the state's governor canceled the Martin Luther King holiday, cost its economy an estimated $300 million.
Another boycott was launched against Colorado in 1992, after state voters passed a referendum nullifying local ordinances protecting gays and lesbians from housing and job discrimination. The dollar loss was estimated at $100 million.
Ironically, however, a boycott of South Carolina's tourism industry could hit black residents harder than whites. That's because blacks hold a disproportionate share of service jobs in the state.
The most recent attempts by the state legislature and former Gov. David Beasley to take the flag down failed miserably -- an indication that the boycott might not end any time soon.
Southern Party seeks to revive old times not forgotten
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